So Just How Dangerous Is It Here?
It seems when I read Stick’s weekly report, there are too many reports of a Farang who took an unexpected “flying lesson” from a hotel balcony, or a woman who was raped. A recent CNN segment spoke of Thailand as being a kind of vortex for criminal activity. Why is it that every pedophile or social deviant seems to get apprehended in Thailand? So I suppose it’s time to ask the simple question, just how dangerous is it here?
I am not the world’s best Internet researcher. I’m sure that many of you could do a much better job than me in tracking down statistics. In fact that some of you will fill in some of the gaps. But anyway here’s what I was able to determine. Let’s start with murder.
Crime Statistics > Murders (per capita) (most recent) by country
DEFINITION: Total recorded intentional homicides, completed. Crime statistics are often better indicators of prevalence of law enforcement and willingness to report crime, than actual prevalence. Per capita figures expressed per 1,000 population.
SOURCE: Seventh United Nations Survey of Crime Trends and Operations of Criminal Justice Systems
Crime Statistics > Murders (per capita) (most recent) by country
So the Land of Smiles comes in at an Amazing # 14! Wow! I thought my former home in the U.S.A. was a dangerous place! But it comes in at # 24. Still not an enviable position, but less than little old Thailand. Does this make afraid to walk the streets? Not in the least. First of all most murders are the result of domestic disputes. Jealous husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends tend to take their revenge seriously! I remember a massage girl I knew in Bangkok. In the middle of my massage she received a phone call. Her brother, who was a police captain in Isaan and his wife had just been shot dead. Apparently someone was fooling around with someone whose spouse took umbrage at the affair settled things the tried and true Thai way. Often times alcohol is a major factor which can turn a seemingly minor dispute into a deadly one. I recently wrote about how enjoyable Songkran was here in Lampang, and how much alcohol was being consumed. According to my wife during the wee hours of the night there were a number of stabbings and a shooting or two. Undoubtedly there are places that any Farang should not venture into late at night, but that’s true back in Farangland as well.
Okay let’s talk about rape. Here are the statistics:
1 United States: 89,110
#2 South Africa: 53,008
#3 Canada: 24,049
#4 Australia: 15,630
#14 Thailand: 4,020
Here the USA tops the list to my everlasting shame. Thailand comes in at # 14! Boy that’s one statistic you’re not likely to hear about from the Thai Tourist Authority! What I have been unable to determine, and perhaps some of you can help me with this, is how many tourists are raped here every year. Rape is of course an under reported crime worldwide. Many women are simply ashamed to tell anyone about their violation. Often police departments are not prepared to deal with the trauma of a rape victim. Somehow I don’t imagine that the boys in brown have received any special training <That is a REAL worry. For a woman to be raped in Thailand, what sort of support systems are available? – Stick>. In many cases men who are in positions of authority still hold to the notion that it must have been the woman’s fault. She was “asking for it.” Make no mistake about it. Rape has nothing to do with sex and everything to do with abuse. I would imagine that the girls working the P4P trade must be especially vulnerable. First of all some (not many, but even a few are too much) Farangs are sickos, who consider the bar girls just “so much meat.” These guys delight in playing out their sick violent fantasies. Second of all I don’t imagine the police would have much sympathy. Hey, If you’re in that line of work, what can you expect? Then there is the matter of spousal rape. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe the Thai judicial system even recognizes that as a crime. So how dangerous is it for a woman tourist to walk around at night? I suppose the best advice is for ladies to watch how much they drink, and to try not to walk alone in secluded places. That’s so sad really. But I think in general tourists are not in any greater danger here than they would be back in the west.
What about violent assaults in general? For some reason I’m not able to copy and paste the chart. I’ll just say that coming in at # 1 is South Africa at 12.0752 assaults per 1000. Thailand does a bit better here at # 44 with 3.13542 per thousand. Again I am unable to find out how many assaults are committed against tourists. Stick always manages to relate a dust up or two. Some are unprovoked attacks. Others seem to be a well deserved beating of a drunk who was way over the line in one way or another.
Here are some other vital stats.
Burglaries 13,222 Thailand is [32nd of 54]
Car thefts 3,276 [35th of 55]
Drug offences 428.9 per 100,000 people [6th of 34]
Embezzlements 12,846 [5th of 44]
Executions 1 executions [28th of 33] This one was a surprise. I thought there would be more!
- Women make up more than 10% of the prison population in only six countries: Thailand, , Qatar, Paraguay, Costa Rica, and Singapore.
Now let’s talk about the biggest danger to all of us living here, traffic accidents. Here’s an interesting quote from the International Red Cross regarding motorcycle accidents.
Thailand has one of the highest rates of motorcycle injuries and deaths in Southeast Asia because not enough drivers wear a safety helmet, according to officials and aid agencies. Alarmingly, the number of motorcycle accidents in the country doubled between 2001 and 2005, with 80,000 accidents reported last year, according to the Royal Thai Police Office. What’s more, around 38,000 accident-related injuries were reported in 2005 compared to 19,000 in 2001.
How many times a week do you see some motor cycle carnage? I see at least 2-3 per week. I was unable to find any statistics about car and truck accidents, so send some if you find any! Driving here in Thailand is always a hit or miss situation. (no pun intended…really!) No matter how conscientious a driver you are, it’s difficult to avoid “almost” being killed. While I’m sure there are worse drivers in the world, The Thais are the worst I’ve ever had to contend with! The driver’s tests they have here are simply a waste of time. Thais believe in only one “rule of the road” and that’s the right of way. Perversely though that means: “I have to go where I want, when I want, so get the hell out of my way!” I’ve learned to take nothing for granted when sharing the road with a Thai. Stop at a red light or a stop sign? You must be joking! Now even when I have a green light, I simply assume that some fool will be speeding through the intersection. I’ve tried to grow a few more sets of eyes to watch out for motorcycles in my blind spot, but deep down I know that someday I’m going to hit one. And of course whose fault will it inevitable be? Well we all know the farang is always wrong! Maybe it’s a Buddhist thing, but Thai drivers simply refuse to look before pulling out in traffic. No fear of death I guess. Also eye contact is a no-no. Somehow it’s like children playing a game. If you don’t acknowledge someone’s presence, then they simply aren’t there! Oh well, if I were a Christian I would have a St. Christopher’s medal hanging around my mirror. But instead I’ll just do my best to stay alert and hope my good karma account is topped up!
According to the statistics for burglary, Thailand doesn’t seem like a hot spot for house breaking. That of course doesn’t stop the Thais from walling themselves in. Robert Frost once coined the line, “good fences good neighbors make.” I doubt though they he had in mind the kind of fortress mentality that every Thai seems to share. My darling wife wouldn’t even consider not having our home “protected” by walls and gates. She really and truly believes that if the gate were to be left open, even during the day, hat hoards of burglars would descend to ransack the place! Why do I have visions of guys dressed like the Beagle Boys straight out of Scrooge McDuck? I actually like to keep the gate closed, but only to keep stray dogs from using our yard as a toilet, but the idea that our wall would keep any determined thief out is absurd. I demonstrated this to my wife by climbing over it in about 5 seconds. Boy, that’s a real deterrent! One of my neighbors has broken glass cemented to the top of his wall. That would hurt I must admit.
A Dutch friend who lives on a secluded dirt road behind our house isn’t taking any chances, since his house was broken into a few years ago and thousands of dollars worth of audio and computer equipment were stolen. It turns out that the thief was a student of his wife. This guy apparently should be featured on The World’s Dumbest Criminals. The computer needed a security code to be entered before it could be used. The thief brought it to a local computer shop and told the owner some B.S. about losing the code. The owner said to leave it with him and we would work on it. While doing just that, the owner was shocked to see a picture of my friend’s wife come up on the screen. Apparently she was a friend of his! Smelling a rat, he contacted the police, who set up a “sting operation”. When the unsuspecting thief showed up to pick up “his” computer, the detectives pounced on the fool. Eventually my neighbor got all of his equipment returned, but having been burned once, he wasn’t about to take any chances in the future. When you approach his home, the first thing you see are large signs warning that his fence is electrified! (and it really is!) If for some reason some Ninja pole vaulted over the fence, halogen lights so bright that that would melt paint would come on. If someone were actually able to enter the house, sirens would immediately start blaring so loudly, that you would think that the gates of Hell had opened! Somehow I don’t think my friend needs fear any more robberies. Is all this overkill? Well his job often requires him to be away from home for extended periods of time. If nothing else he can rest a little easier while on the road.
For myself, I’m content to have some motion activated floodlights around the house. Although my wife wanted to, I refused to have bars on the windows. Hey, what am I, a prisoner? The best defense we have again burglary are our neighbors, some of whom notice every little movement in the neighborhood.
So let’s sum it all up. If you are in the wrong place at the wrong time, you probably could get yourself murdered, assaulted, raped, robbed or run over. But on the whole you could probably manage to do that back in Farangland. That’s not to say that we all need to be vigilant. That’s just common sense. But I can honestly say that I never fear for my life here in the Land of Smiles…except of course when driving! Then all bets for survival are off!
A lot of Westerners in Thailand believe that the country is safe. I put that down to the fact that random acts of violence against foreigners is NOT that hight, but there is enough of it to be a worry. What is a real worry is that if one gets into a dispute – even if one is not in the wrong – they could be targeted.
And then there is the issue of problems on the road. That is a very real area of concern. Thailand safer than the West? Hmmm, I don't think so!