“I want to help empower women to rise up and fight. I want women to stop tolerating abuse and remaining silent through injustice.”
(BANGKOK, November 25, 2021)—Domestic violence is a form of violence that occurs within a family or in intimate relationships. It is a crime that often goes unnoticed and unresolved due to its relatively hidden nature and social norms that posit domestic violence as a private matter.
But survivors of domestic violence have rights—and in Thailand, 38-year-old Nanthiya “Fon,” is one woman survivor working to protect those rights.
“I wish I had received more justice in my case, Fon told Fortify Rights. “I honestly don’t know if justice was served, but I don’t feel like it was.”
After a long battle to pursue legal charges against her abuser, Fon began to volunteer at the Women and Men Progressive Movement Foundation—a nonprofit organization providing psychosocial and legal support to survivors of domestic violence in Thailand.
“I started volunteering at the Foundation because what I endured was truly awful, and I want to do what I can to ensure that other women don’t have to experience the same injustice,” said Fon. “I want to help empower women to rise up and fight. I want women to stop tolerating abuse and remaining silent through injustice.”
While domestic violence is often a form of gender-based violence, a core belief of the Women and Men Progressive Movement Foundation is that both women and men must play a role in preventing and combating this type of violence. Its goal is to dismantle patriarchal attitudes to achieve true gender equality.
“I want police officers to adjust their beliefs and attitudes . . . They have a duty to protect all civilians.”
As a volunteer, Fon supports women pursuing legal cases against their abusers by accompanying survivors to police stations and court hearings.
“In my case, I was initially alone, so I had a very different experience. It was only when the Foundation got involved that the police seemed to realize they had to move forward with my case.”
Given her own experience as a survivor, Fon is able to support women who find themselves in similar situations she was once in.
“I believe women in these situations need to feel heard and supported,” Fon said. “I listen to them talk and give them emotional support while sharing my own experience with them. I want women to find their strength and love and protect themselves to the fullest.”
Fon also expressed the challenges of addressing domestic violence given the nature of such violence, saying: “Ideally, I wish bystanders and those witnessing the abuse would intervene before the abuse escalates. When someone is being violated, it is no longer a private matter.”
Last year, the Women and Men Progressive Movement Foundation launched a campaign entitled “The Daily Fight” aimed at raising awareness on domestic violence in Thailand. A key message of their campaign was that what is unacceptable in public is also unacceptable at home.
“I don’t want anyone to tolerate [domestic violence],” Fon said. “To put up with it can lead to one’s own death. I want women to shout out and fight instead of keeping quiet.”