Young women play leading role in protests in Thailand


They pointed to abortion laws which they felt do not allow women to control their own bodies by limiting the procedure to cases where physical or mental health is compromised. And they spoke out against beauty pageants, popular in Thailand, which they said dismissed women as modest decorative items. (A beauty queen who has expressed support for pro-democracy rallies has been denounced online for having dark skin.)

“The younger generation now has the vocabulary to name what is wrong with society when it comes to gender issues,” said Duanghathai Buranajaroenkij, a gender studies expert at Mahidol University in Bangkok. “When I first started studying gender, most Thais didn’t even know you had to use a gender lens to look at things.”

At a late-night rally last weekend, the largest since the 2014 coup, female speakers attacked the patriarchal traditions of the Thai royal palace. The laws of succession specify that the crown must go to a male heir. The Privy Council, a select group of advisers to the monarch, is entirely male.

King Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun has been married four times. Two of his previous wives have been purged. Last year, the king stripped the titles of his royal wife, a post akin to an official mistress who, until he brought it back, had not existed since before the country abolished absolute monarchy in 1932.

The spouse had been accused of “misconduct and disloyalty to the monarch”. But this month, the palace announced that she had been reinstated in her old post. We do not know why.

On a protest scene outside the Grand Palais on Saturday night, Ms Chumaporn, co-founder of Women for Freedom and Democracy, raised a rarely-discussed issue in a country where criticism of the king can win up to 15 people. years in prison. (The king was not at home as he spends most of his time in Germany.)


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