Monk Rapist and The Victims

By Chit Hnin Aye | Nov 30th 2016

This article was written for a news story class assignment for JM 311 News Editing course by Lecturer Sanitsuda Ekachai, BJM Program, Faculty of Journalism and Mass Communication, Thammasat University, Thailand.

A former monk Phra Chaiya Dhammapo, now named Mr Chaiya Parathang, 35, was set to be arrested on the charge of rape of a minor and blackmail on August 14, 2016 in Ubon Ratchathani.

Pol Lt Col Prasert Maidaeng, superintendent of Chong Mek police station ordered the arrest after receiving a complaint from the father of the victim, Ms Bee (not real name), that she was raped by the monk in 2013 when she was just 16 year-old.

Ms Bee was a Mathayom 4 student then while the former monk, now named, Mr Chaiya, was a religious teacher at her school in Tambon Chong Mek, Sirindhorn district.

What’s worse? He took video clip of the sex act to blackmail the girl. Out of shame and fear of being blamed by the society, Ms Bee kept this to herself for years. She moved to Bangkok for work after high school but former monk continued to harass her with photos and videos — forcing her to come and see him.

Finally swallowing her fear, Ms Bee consulted her parents and asked them to file a charge against the monk. Her father was very angry when he found out.

“I wanted to see the perpetrator punished and jailed to prevent him from abusing more young girls,” he said.

He blamed the school for failing to take precautionary measures to protect students from being sexually abused by teachers. He also blamed senior monks at the temple for total negligence, allowing rogue monks to abuse their status and sexually abuse young girls under their noses.

“My daughter was not the first victim and would not be the last if temples and senior monks fail to their duties,” he said.

He was right.

Ms Bee was not only his victims.

In 2015, Ms Maew (not real name), who was deaf and mute committed, suicide after failing to let people know the former monk, who was her teacher as well, was her lover. She was just 23 then. On her suicide note, she drew a picture depicting a pregnant woman with a writing “Phra Chaiya is my lover”.

Before this ordeal, Ms Maew tried to tell the villagers that the former monk was her lover but the monk denied it and accused her of being a liar. Out of distress, she resorted to taking her life.

Even though people were suspicious, no one dared to challenge him because he was a monk and a teacher.

“Rogue monks seriously undermine public faith in Buddhism,” said Mr Kam Mungdee, village head of Ban Laem village, Tambon Non Kor, Ubon Ratchathani province.

Mr Kam said that Mr Chaiya was ordained at Ban Laem Temple in 2001. In 2003, the former monk started teaching Buddhism in a high school there. The former monk was active in organising religious study camps in which students were required to sleepover at the temple.

In 2012, a committee member told Mr Kam he had spotted a 16-year-old girl spending time alone at the monk’s dwelling from 6 pm to 8 pm. According to monks’ codes of conducts, monks cannot stay alone with a woman. Mr Kam then went to the monk’s dwelling and told the girl to leave and return home. The former monk said the girl was just dropping by to give him homework.

Mr Kam said that the former monk did not want the temple committee to get involved with the activities. “It’s why I didn’t really trust him,” he added.

After learning about the charge, the monk rapist immediately fled the monkhood and and went to Pon Pisai district in Nong Khai province. He was arrested when he went to the district office to get his new ID card on Aug 13, 2016. He pleaded guilty.

Mr Kam believed that many girls had been raped by the former monk.

He suggested all the victims to come out like Ms Bee to file charge against the monk rapist so that he would get a maximum punishment.

But the problem is rape victims are often punished and blamed for speaking out against their perpetrators. What happen when one of those perpetrators turned out to be a monk who is a religious figure in the community?

Ms Bongkot Piansuk, an activist at the Women’s Foundation said that although many monks have been arrested and disrobed over the years for rape crimes but many more are still free because very few victims dare report the crime for fear of social stigma. There is also the fact that many victims are poor and cannot afford going to court.

“This is just a tip of the iceberg,” said Bongkot Piansuk, an activist at the Women’s Foundation.

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