Sida Lui Faai – Thai feminists move against oppression

Female protesters chanting and dancing to “Sida Lui Faai” during the anti-government protests.

รัฐที่เพิกเฉยต่อเสียงของเรา ก็คือรัฐที่ข่มขืนเรา

“The state that is ignoring our voices, is the state that is raping us!”

Part of the lyrics of their feminist anthem, Sida Lui Faai (สีดาลุยไฟ), chanted by a large group of young female protesters, who call themselves Women’s Freedom, during the recent anti-government protests in Bangkok.

The key message of this anthem is the fight against oppression, sexual harassment and violence against women. Most importantly, they hope to end the victim-blaming culture, where women are often blamed for the way they dress, or where they were before being raped or harassed.

กูจะแรดจะร่านยังไ จะไปเที่ยวไหน มันก็เรื่องของกู

No matter what I do, or where I go, it is none of your business!

The name Sida Lui Faai (สีดาลุยไฟ) itself, comes from a chapter in a well-known Thai epic, Ramakien (รามเกียรติ์), which tells the story of Sida (สีดา), who walks on fire to prove her innocence to her beloved husband, Rama (พระราม).

It then became the anthem’s name, representing women, including these young female protesters, who have had enough of being exploited by the patriarchal system, which, they say, has been deep-rooted in Thai society for centuries. They are now here to stand up for themselves, their rights, their dignity and gender equality.

เราเกิดมาก็ถูกตัดสิน

ถูกกัดกินจากชายเป็นใหญ่

คือระบอบที่ย่ำยีเรา

คือความรุนแรงที่มึงไม่มอง

We are judged since we were born

We are abused by the patriarchy

This system is exploiting us

It’s violence you don’t bother to see

The Sida Lui Faai anthem is a re-interpretation of “Un Violador en Tu Camino” or “A Rapist In Your Path”, by Chilean feminist group, Las Tesis.

Originally written in Spanish, the lyrics reflect the voices of women against patriarchy, which often blames them for becoming victims of rape. Such flash mobs have been seen in many countries, from Latin America and Europe, to the United States.

“The Sida Lui Faai song reflects that all of us, as women, have been taught by Thai literature, when that literature contains no gender equality at all,” said Chumaporn Taengkleang, a member of the Women’s Freedom group.

She is one of those feminists who doesn’t see why Sida has to walk on fire to prove her innocence to her husband, when she didn’t do anything wrong. In comparison, why must women take all the blame when they are victims of sexual harassment?

“This concept has been used repetitively against women,” she said, “Today we are dancing to Sida Lui Faai, not to prove anyone’s innocence, but to say that all of us are living under this system, where rape still occurs in society.”

Violence against women does not only reflect the ugly side of Thai culture but, according to these young protesters, it also reflects a larger social issue, especially the political system in Thailand.

Through this demonstration, they hope to make changes, peacefully, along with freedom and democracy which young Thai people are fighting for.

By Nad Bunnag

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