Every Songkran, men in uniforms try to turn back the clock on female sexual agency by admonishing women to cover up. They cite tradition and safety and rely on the classic, hot-girls-get-raped trope of victim-shaming.
And every year, once the water and booze and music gets pumping, the bodies get thumping.
This year, the authorities are taking it up several notches by threatening to jail not just the uninhibited Songkran revelers, but anyone posting or sharing images of them on social media. They’re saying it could be a cybercrime punishable by up to five years in prison and fines of THB100,000 (USD$3,000).
“Claiming you don’t know about the law or do not have any illegal intention will not get you out of trouble,” tech crime spokesman Col. Siriwat Deepor said, adding that cyber police will be closely monitoring social streams.
That means that just like many guys, a bunch of cops will spend the holiday scouring the web for anything that quickens their pulse for possible arrest.
Speaking by phone this afternoon, Siriwat clarified that “provocative” means any kind of photo or video that has the potential to get someone a little too excited, which could mean shorts, white shirts, tight clothes and sleeveless tops. The severity of the punishment will be determined by the court, he added.
Siriwat said that he wants to put an end to the provocative photos of women and trans women he sees circulating the web every Songkran.
He made no mention of men, who somehow seem exempt from the crackdown.
It shows the great strides have (not) been made since the #DontTellMeHowToDress and #TellMenToRespect trended one year ago in response to similar government warnings that women should cover up to avoid sexual harassment during the Thai New Year.
Though the movement gained worldwide attention and opened the floor to a long-overdue conversation about respect and consent, here we are a year later with women still being told how to dress.
In addition to the boobs ban, a booze ban threat was warmed over as well – pretty much a rehash of that of two years ago.
Police say anyone posting “enticing” photos or videos of alcohol face punishment up to a THB500,000 (US$16,000) fine and year in jail.
The threats come paired with the usual quixotic appeals to make Songkran Thai again.
Instead of skanking out atop their boyfriends’ modified pickups, officials say women should return to traditional displays of filial obedience.
Though Siriwat didn’t mention it, recent decisions to shut down the wild rites of Khaosan Road and ban all foam-related festivities have cited a desire to keep things tame in the weeks running up to the coronation ceremonies in early May.
Will the enforcement bite be as serious as the bark? If past history is any guide, probably not except for a few examples made. But we can’t say for sure, so if you cut loose and show whatya got, be sure to wave to the boys in brown who may be watching from their sweaty bunker.