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Pilot project set up for battered women and children

According to the permanent secretary of the Public Health Ministry, Dr Sophon Mekthon, almost 24,000 Thai women and children have found themselves the victims of violence so far this year. 10,721 of those were children.

Dr Sophon Mekthon spoke out yesterday-the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. He announced the Public Health Ministry and the National Health Foundation (NHF) have developed a system for domestic-violence notification, screening and primary care for the abused.

Coordination units have been set up in Tambon Health Promotion Hospitals in Chumphon and Rayong provinces to screen victims under the age of 18. The most prevalent issues being abandonment, unwanted pregnancy and assault. 2,270 young people have been selected for a joint care program by schools and local administrative bodies. The system will expand to two other districts, Khon Kaen and Pathum Thani next year.

The government is already aware of this problem and help has been available at public hospitals since 1999. 896 Pheung Dai help centres have been set up to provide care for abuse women and children.

Yesterday the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Woman was marked in various provinces around the kingdom. A 500 strong parade by Women for Peace Foundation was held in Yala. Calls were made for safety areas in the south.

Sophon believes the main factors behind violence towards women are alcohol, narcotics and pornography. He said that most attacks were sexually motivated which often leads to unwanted pregnancy and that most attackers are related or known to the victims. Many of the culprits were the boyfriends or husbands of the women he said, motivated by relationship problems, jealousy and adultery.

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