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Editorial note.

Thai women have received a good news when the Constitution Court ruled that, the present Name Act which forces women to use their husband's name is no longer effective as date of June 5th, 2003. This ruling implies that the forty- two years old Act has been violating the basic rights of married women and thus, contradicts to the fundamental principles of the Constitution. The most recent attempt to amend this law was in 1997 but it failed when it was defeated by vote 58:60 in the parliament.

There are still many laws in Thailand that discriminate against women such as Sexual Offence Act, which does not protect women from marital rape. The Alliance for the Advancement of Women (AAW) has launched a campaign to collect signatures to support for the amendment of the law that includes marital rape as criminal offence. The detailed report of the campaign is included in this issue. We hope that the on-going campaign throughout the country will enhance the societal understanding on gender equality and basic women's human rights.

Today, we live in the world with the advanced information and communication technology. However this does not necessarily guarantee the progress in protection of the rights of the people. It makes us think, then what we mean by the advanced world. Do we mean the advancement in technology where everyone has a mobile phone? Or do we mean the world where people benefit from democratic principles that freedom and rights are ensured for everyone in the society? Nevertheless, it is sad to learn that in 'this advanced world' many people in Thailand have supported the government policy to control and punish drug trafficking in violent ways.

It is also unfortunate to see the response of our Prime Minister Mr. Taksin Shinnawat (when he disregarded) on the statement made by Ms. Hina Jilani, the UN Special Representative on Human Rights Defenders in regards to the current situation in Thailand during her official visit which took place at the end of this May.

Ms. Jilani commented that she had sensed different levels of insecurity among human rights defenders, which range from the general unease to the actual fear. She also criticized the government that the recommendations made by the National Human Rights Commission, the Constitution Court and the Ombudsman Office had the limited effect in implementation as they failed to obtain the sufficient corporation from the relevant state agencies.

Looking back the past years, quite a few numbers of the government policies, such as one million village fund and rural credit, were implemented to fight against the poverty in Thailand. However, it is still questionable how such policies were effective and successful in eradicating the poverty. The latest UNDP report comments that the populist policies of the Thai Government, which characterized as large and easy handouts, may tear community apart, jeopardize financial self-discipline and eventually may be weaken a long cultivated self-reliance of the people.

Moreover, Despite some sort of success brought about by the implementation of this government-led populist policies, we can still witness high migration of people in the rural area to Bangkok and to aboard. Many trafficked men and women are still being deported back to Thailand from the overseas which can be seen as a significant evidence that such policies can not bring hope for many poor people in remote areas. Migration will still be a way to survive for marginalized groups who are derived of access to and benefits from the government policy. This partly gives an answer why human trafficking has become a never-ending problem not only in Thailand but in many other developing countries. The first paper on "Human Trafficking: From Vertical to Horizontal journey" suggests a more horizontal approach that encourage the participation of affected women/children and communities.

It is good that trafficking in persons has become one of the major concerned issues in the recent global arena. Among growing concerns raised by different development agencies to counter human trafficking, however, the issue of the right of people to migrate has been long neglected. In this regard, you can find one promising practice to promote the right of trafficked persons from the recent research conducted by the Anti-Slavery International in collaboration with FFW and other groups in 9 countries, which recommends that providing the residency status to the victims is a key for the better solution to combat human trafficking.

Finally, this issue of Voices of Thai Women also includes the report on our activities during the past two years to share with our readers our major focuses, achievements and challenges faced during the period.
COPYRIGHT 2003 Foundation for Women
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Article Details
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Publication:Voices of Thai Women
Article Type:Editorial
Geographic Code:9THAI
Date:May 1, 2003
Words:768
Next Article:Human trafficking: from vertical to horizontal journey.
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