"Violence, including sexual vioČlence, remains an everyday threat for women and girls," Dr Chanvit Tarathep, director of the Bureau of Health Service System Development, said yesterday.
The Health Ministry's records for 2007 show that 8,172 women aged over 18 and 9,579 girls suffered abuse last year.
The ministry found some 109 eldČerly people - both men and women - had also suffered violent abuse by relatives or family members.
A researcher at Mahidol University's Population Research and Social Institute, Kritaya Archavanichkul, who has conducted studies on domestic violence against women, said she had found 17,529 news reports on violent attacks on women over the past 10 years. Some 64 per cent of these related to sexual violence, such as rapes or women who had been harmed. Some women had retaliated by cutting their husband's penis.
Kritaya has found that females of all ages were vulnerable. The youngest girl reported raped (by a family member) was 13 months, while the oldest woman raped was 105 years old.
Meanwhile, the youngest boy suffering abuse was six years old and the oldest man abused was 83.
"Most of women and girls were raped by family members and friends," Kritaya said.
Meanwhile, 721 students were interviewed in Pathum Thani for a study by Ramathibodi Hospital's Domestic Violence Knowledge Management Centre.
Dr Ronnachai Kongsakont, who conducted study, said 65 per cent of respondents said they had experience of domestic violence in their family. And 83 per cent of these students said they had suffered depression, loss of selfcontrol, addiction to narcotic drugs, a broken family, compulsion to gamble and selfharm, because of this violence.
Kritaya said she would ask the National Health Commission to subČmit a proposal on sexual health, which she hoped would help reduce the level of violence in Thai society.
The proposal includes a plan to promote sexual health and women's health, plus a massive campaign to educate the public, government agencies and the media to try to stop domestic violence and violence against women. It would be a key measure to help the public understand the issue better and to eliminate violence.
"The question is why does Thai society still ignore violence against women? The ignorance about vioČlence against women in society is a kind of violence itself.
"We have to eliminate this attitude from our society and help each other to improve," she said.