A law student who experienced sexual assault speaks up about an under-discussed problem

Thararat Panya. Photos courtesy of Thararat Panya

'In mid-March, I was raped by one of my university seniors," wrote Thararat Panya in an Aug 18 Facebook post. "He was someone that I trusted to a certain degree."

Spelling out the details, the 21-year-old Thammasat law student recalled exactly what had happened on that unfortunate night. She and her friends, including the senior, were hanging out and having drinks outside. Becoming intoxicated, they decided to go to their friend's dormitory to get some rest. Sleeping opposite her female friend, the senior manoeuvred his way between the girls. Thararat felt his hand on her back. She moved away. He moved towards her, grabbed her hand and placed it on his penis. Shocked, Thararat moved away again, almost falling over onto the classmate sleeping on the floor. He wrapped a leg around her, putting her into a lock as he grabbed her breast and reached his hand into her underwear, putting his fingers inside her. She pushed, shoved and tried to get out of the hold. Breaking free, Thararat ran to the toilet, crying from shock.

After two days, the senior confronted Thararat and told her he didn't remember anything. Shame turned to anger, and she vowed to not let this slip by. She called for disciplinary action from the university, and after four months of investigation, the verdict came out. The senior was punished with a semester-long suspension and community service for "inappropriate behaviour". It was a slap on the wrist to the rapist, and an insult to rape victims everywhere.

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