A Chiang Rai-based NGO Center for Girls has revealed that they have managed to help a 13-year-old girl escape a forced marriage with a 50-year-old man after the girl contacted them.
Chitraporn Vanaspong, Chairperson for Center for Girls (CFG), posted on Facebook hat the Center received a note from a young girl, “Nu Na,” asking for help. She said that she was being forced by her parents to marry a 50-year-old man as soon as she finished high school.
“I don’t want to get married yet. I want to keep going to school,” Nu Na’s said. “My mo
m is forcing me to get married, but I don’t want to. I want a scholarship so that I can keep going to school. I want to go to school outside. Help me. I want to go to school.”
Nu Na’s close friend had taken part in a Center workshop on children’s rights in which they talked about child marriage. Explaining that child marriage was a violation of children’s rights. According to Chitraporn, Nu Na’s friend told her to seek help and was the one who delivered the letter.
Nu Na’s Letter to Center for Girls
Nunnaree Luangmoi, founder and director for the Center for Girls, said that Nu Na’s family had financial problems, and owed the man money. Nunnaree said that the man may have given Nu Na’s parents the ultimatum. If they couldn’t pay him back, they should give him their daughter instead.
According to Nunnaree the Center for Girls does not have the authority to separate children from their parents. In Nu Na’s case, the government said that they could not help because nothing had happened to her yet.
Since they cannot take Nu Na away from her family, a team from the Center went to see the alleged groom to be. He said had bought the girl a mobile phone, and her mother had been urging him to take her out.
Chitraporn said that the team that went to talk to the man included a police officer and an officer from a children and family shelter with them. They took a copy of the Criminal Code and explained to the man the legal penalties he would be facing if he married the child.
The alleged groom to be denied everything, saying that he did not think about Nu Na in that way. He said only liked her and bought her a cell phone because she was a good student.
Parents Abusive Towards Children
According to the Center for Girls, one of Nu Na’s older sisters had already been married off. She said that the parents were violent toward their children. The parents said that because Nu Na is their child, they can do anything with her.
They have been talking to the parents for several months.
Finally, when the Center for Girls was organizing a children’s camp in the village, Nu Na asked to go with them. She told the center workers that she wasn’t staying there anymore. At which point, they brought Nu Na to the Center.
Despite difficulties, they were able to convince the parents to let Nu Na leave home and go to school.
Nu Na has now been referred to a shelter, where she now lives and has transportation to go to a nearby school.
When they visited Nu Na 2 months ago, she seemed to be doing fine. She said that she does not miss home, and that she wanted to continue studying until she finished school.
Chitraporn said that Nu Na is smart, but she does not want to pursue higher education. She wants to finish school quickly so that she could earn money to care for her family.
The Thai Criminal Code on Minors
At that time, Nu Na was 13 years old, a minor under Thai law and below the age of consent. According to Section 317 of the Thai Criminal Code, whoever, without reasonable cause, takes away a child not yet over fifteen years of age from the parent, guardian or person looking after such child, shall be punished with imprisonment of three to fifteen years and a fine of six thousand to thirty thousand baht.
Moreover, Section 279 also states that committing “indecent” acts on a child younger than fifteen, whether with the child’s consent or not, carries a prison sentence of not more than ten years or a fine of not more than twenty thousand baht, or both.
Section 277 also states that whoever has sexual intercourse with a girl not yet over fifteen years of age and not being his own wife, whether the girl consents or not, shall be punished with imprisonment of four to twenty years and fined eight thousand to forty thousand baht.
If the offence is committed against a girl not yet over thirteen years of age, the offender shall be punished with imprisonment of seven to twenty years and a fine fourteen thousand to forty thousand baht, or imprisonment for life.