Activists petition over Royal Thai Police ‘sexism’

Ruangrawi Pichaikul, centre, hands a petition to an Ombudsman official calling for the agency to urge police to accept applications from women for certain positions they are excluded from. (Photo by Apichit Jinakul)

Social activists have petitioned the Ombudsman to pressure the Royal Thai Police (RTP) to scrap its plan to allow male-only applications for inquiry official roles this year, saying the move undermines women’s rights.

Ruangrawi Pichaikul, director of the Gender and Development Research Institute, along with representatives from five civic organisations, yesterday filed the petition with Kamoltham Wasboonma, director of the Ombudsman’s Legal Affairs and Litigation Bureau.

A total of 99 names of people supporting the petition were also submitted to the official.

They are taking aim at the RTP’s announcement that it would seek only men as new inquiry officials this year.

According to the petitioners, the announcement represents gender discrimination and conflicts with the constitution, Gender Equality Act and international covenants of which Thailand is a signatory.

They said the RTP only began refusing to receive female applications for inquiry official positions this year. This policy would mean more than 3,000 qualified females would be barred from the roles, according to the petitioners.

Ms Ruangrawi said women’s rights groups invited RTP representatives to explain the decision, but their overtures were rejected.

Accordingly, the group decided to petition the Ombudsman to investigate the announcement and advise the RTP to abrogate it, she said, adding that the RTP must also be urged to issue a new announcement covering both male and female applicants.

Ms Ruangrawi said the petition would also be filed to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, who also serves as the chairman of both the Police Service Commission and a committee responsible for supporting gender equality.

“The RTP must issue a new announcement within a month so women are not deprived of their right to apply for the job,” she said.

Mr Kamoltham, meanwhile, said the petition would be forwarded to the Ombudsman for consideration, but he could not promise a time frame for how long the deliberation would take.

Earlier this month, the RTP justified its men-only policy by suggesting that many women had quit the role in the past due to family commitments

Deputy police spokesman Pol Lt Col Pongpol Iemvichan added that, in mitigation, a certain number of women who graduate from the Royal Police Cadet Academy are also brought in as inquiry officials every year.

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