Marital Rape in Thailand

When General Surayud Chulanont took over Thailand in a military coup. Certain changes had been made. The most noted one what the definition of rape and marital rape. The status of women in Thailand holding on to their maiden surnames and titles. Finally the recognition of LGBTQ rights in Thailand. All of these occurred during his tenure.

Marital Rape in Thailand

Marital Rape in Thailand

The Criminal Code Amendment Act (No.19) B.E. 2550 (2007). This represents a significant legal change in Thailand. It broadens the definition of rape to encompass acts committed against individuals of all sexes. It also includes various forms of sexual penetration within the scope of rape offenses.

Importantly, the Act criminalizes marital rape. Which means that it is now illegal for a spouse to engage in non-consensual sexual activity with their partner. Furthermore, this amendment imposes more severe penalties on individuals found guilty of various forms of rape and sexual abuse. Likewise see also domestic violence in Thailand.


Changes to the Penal Code

One of the notable changes brought about by this Act is the removal of the previous distinction outlined in Section 276 of the Penal Code. This distinction had previously limited the definition of rape to sexual intercourse between a man and a woman. This who is not his wife, effectively allowing a husband to rape his wife without legal consequences. With this amendment, such impunity for marital rape is no longer tolerated under Thai law. Likewise also see the divorce law in Thailand and annulment of marriage in Thailand.

The first change was that of the Thai Penal Code. In light of the necessity to amend the Penal Code, it is deemed appropriate. Thus, acting upon the counsel and accord of the National Legislative Assembly, He, in His benevolence, ordains the enactment of the subsequent Act:


Article 1. 

This Act shall be known as the “Penal Code Amendment Act (No. 19), 2550 BE.”


Article 2. 

This Act shall take effect from the day immediately following its publication in the Royal Gazette onwards.


Article 3. 

The provisions of Section 276 of the Penal Code, previously modified by the Penal Code Amendment Act (No. 5), 2525 BE. Also Section 277 of the Penal Code, previously modified by the Penal Code Amendment Act (No. 8), 2530 BE. These shall be revoked and replaced by the ensuing stipulations:


Compare the Changes

This is where you can see the changes in the law.

Section 276. Rape (Old)

Whoever has sexual intercourse with a woman, who is not wife, against her will, by threatening by any means whatever, by doing any act of violence, by taking advantage of the woman being in the condition of inability to resist, or by causing the woman to mistake him for the other person, shall be punished with imprisonment of four to twenty years and fined of eight thousand to forty thousand Baht.


Section 276. Rape (New)

Any person who engages in sexual intercourse with another person through threats, the use of force, or when the latter is incapable of resistance, or by deceitfully posing as someone else, shall be subject to imprisonment for a period ranging from four to twenty years and a fine of eight thousand to forty thousand baht.

You will note that the newly amended parts of the law now include rape of your wife as well as the “wife” was removed to be substituted by “person”. This was celebrated by the LGBTQ community as sexual assault of men or transgender was now also defined as rape. Further added to the law was the following:

Sexual intercourse, as referred to in paragraph 1, includes acts intended to satisfy the perpetrator’s desires, involving the perpetrator’s genitalia, anus, or oral cavity, or using any other object against another person’s genitalia or anus.

These changes had been part of the 2007 amendment of the criminal code. In addition, the following was also added. This is a translated and rewritten version of the paragraph so speak to us about this and these articles are for comparison and learning only and not quotable in any form or fashion.

Added Section

In cases where the offense described in paragraph 1, which pertains to marital rape, occurs between spouses who still desire to continue living together as husband and wife, the court has the discretion to impose a lighter punishment than what is prescribed by law. Alternatively, the court may establish specific conditions for supervising the behavior of the offender instead of imposing a standard punishment.

However, if the court’s judgment results in imprisonment, and either of the spouses no longer wishes to maintain the marital relationship and seeks a divorce, that spouse is required to notify the court of their intention. Subsequently, the court will inform a public prosecutor to initiate divorce proceedings. This process ensures that the legal system addresses the consequences of the marital rape offense on the marital relationship and provides an avenue for divorce if one of the spouses no longer wishes to continue the marriage.


Section 277. Rape – under 15 years of age (Old)

Whoever, has sexual intercourse with a girl not yet over fifteen years of age and not being his own wife, whether such girl shall consent or not, shall be punished with imprisonment of four to twenty years and fined of eight thousand to forty thousand Baht.


Section 277. Rape – under 15 years of age (New)

Whoever commits intercourse with a child aged still not over fifteen years who is not his own wife or her own husband, whether with or without the consent of that child, shall be punished with imprisonment from four years to twenty years and a fine from eight thousand baht to forty thousand baht.


The following however was removed when the act was amended:


The offense as provided in the first paragraph, if the offender being the man commits against the girl over thirteen years but not yet over fifteen years of age with her consent and the Court grants such man and girl to marry together afterward, the offender shall not be punished for such offense. If the Court grants them to marry together while the offender is still inflicted with the punishment, the Court shall release such offender.


This was replaced by the following:

As for the offense prescribed in paragraph 1, if it is committed by a person aged not over eighteen years against a child whose age is above thirteen years but still not over fifteen years with the consent of that child, the court has the power to try juvenile and family cases may consider implementing the welfare protection for the child victim or the offender according to the law on child protection instead of imposing a punishment.

Likewise one would expect that the Penal Code will be amended again to bring the two sections into harmony with equality for the victims of the crime.


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