Bangkok: The misogynist attacks are foul. During fiery anti-government rants, Yingluck Shinawatra has been called stupid, ugly, a bitch, a slut and a whore, among even worse things.
The strain on Thailand’s first female prime minister is becoming evident as protests and sporadic attacks continue in Bangkok.
Ms Yingluck has been seen occasionally tearing up in public, asking the other day: “Do you not want me to set foot on Thai soil anymore?”
Last Friday she told journalists: “Whoever could be in my position for one day would know how it feels.”
When 46-year-old Ms Yingluck won power in a landslide election victory in 2011 she said one of the first world leaders she wanted to meet was Australia’s then prime minister Julia Gillard because she saw a lot in common with her. But she could never have foreseen Ms Gillard’s famous vow a year later to “call out misogyny and sexism wherever I see it” and the crude attacks that were later to come her own way.
A university professor recommended sending a large group of men to “sexually snare” Ms Yingluck, according to reports by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
A well-known doctor offered to give her vaginal repair surgery and to change her sanitary pads and said she could become a nude model because she has hasn’t yet reached menopause.
At major intersections in Bangkok which protesters are blockading, huge photoshopped posters have been put up calling Ms Yingluck crude names or showing her with phalluses.
Late last year British-educated opposition leader and former prime minister Abhisit Vejjajiva referred to Ms Yingluck as a “stupid bitch”.
The crude attacks have come from women and men as Thailand’s political crisis has become increasingly bitter.
A protest movement backed by Bangkok’s middle class and elite is trying to topple Ms Yingluck’s government and set up an unelected body to run the country for up to two years.
They claim Ms Yingluck is a puppet of her elder brother Thaksin Shinawatra, a divisive figure in Thailand, who lives abroad to avoid a jail sentence for corruption.
Thai social commentators have said they are surprised by the vulgarity and explicit sexual nature of the attacks on Ms Yingluck.
Pravit Rojanaphruk, a columnist in the English-language newspaper The Nation, wrote that the misogyny reflects “a deep-rooted patriarchal culture in Thai society, even among people who claim to uphold morality”.
Meanwhile, protesters continue to mass in Bangkok despite a bomb attack last Friday that killed one and wounded dozens.
Both authorities and demonstrators blamed each other for the blast while the country’s supreme military commander Thanasak Patimaprakorn appealed to both sides of the conflict to come together to seek a solution.