Victim blaming

#DontTellMeHowToDress goes viral in Thailand after local official suggests women invite assault

Cindy Bishop (Facebook)

After a local Thai government official attributed problems with sexual assault during the country’s new year festival to the way women dress, women responded furiously on social media using the hashtag #Don’tTellMeHowToDress. Thailand’s Songkran festival, which runs this year from April 13 through April 15, is famous for its hectic water-gun battles that leave celebrants soaked. But after local officials in Bangkok responded to concerns about sexual harassment and assault by declaring that they would launch a campaign to tell women not to dress provocatively at the festival, many women decided they were sick of being blamed for men’s behavior.

Cindy Bishop, a Bangkok-based Thai-American model and actress, jump-started the hashtag #DontTellMeHowToDress when her Facebook video denouncing victim blaming in the country went viral. The interest in the topic has surprised some observers, according to Bloomberg, because larger feminist movements such as #MeToo never managed to take off in Thailand.

“Maybe the reason this is taking off faster is because they’re not coming out and accusing anyone,” Bishop explained. “Our society is quite conservative, and for someone to come out and point a finger at someone who’s assaulted her is huge, I don’t know if we’re ready for it yet.”

According to a survey from the Women and Men Progressive Movement foundation, 59 percent of girls ranging from age 10 to age 40 said they had suffered sexual harassment during the Thai new year festival.

Watch Bishop’s viral video below.

Read the full story at Bloomberg.

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