Sunday, November 21, 2010
Thai comedians help with recovery of fetuses at Bangkok temple
What appears to be a still from a Thai comedy film is being used to illustrate CNN's November 17 article about the shocking and grisly discovery of hundreds (now thousands) of aborted fetuses stored at a Buddhist temple in Bangkok.
But it's not a staged photo. These actors and actresses, familiar to fans of Thai comedies, are volunteers with the Poh Teck Tung Foundation, one of the "body snatcher" ambulance services of Thailand.
The abandoned-fetus story has highlighted the issue of abortion and birth control in Thailand, where abortion is illegal except for certain cases, such as the mother's life being endangered by pregnancy or the woman is a rape victim.
Police estimate there are around 4,000 illegal abortion clinics, which are now under close watch.
The fetuses were being stored at Wat Phai Ngern Chotanaram after the temple's crematorium broke down. The undertaker attempted to mask the odor of the rotting fetuses by pouring gasoline around them and burying them, but neighbors complained.
But I have wondered if there is another reason the fetuses were being stored.
Thai movies have depicted supernatural beliefs that fetuses have black-magic powers. A recent film about this was The Snow White (ตายทั้งกลม , Tai Tang Klom), which recently played at the Indonesia International Fantasic Film Festival. That one had a pair of college students steal a fetus from a dead mother's womb in hopes of obtaining powers that would make them excell in their studies and gain sexual prowess with women.
Thanit Jitnukul's 2002 fantasy Kunpan – at least partially based on the epic Khun Chang Khun Phaen, recently translated into English by Chris Baker and Pasuk Phongpaichit. The movie had the supernatural warlord protagonist steal the living fetus from a young woman's womb and use the fetus to do his bidding in battles in which he wiped out enemie armies.
And Limitless Cinema has his own list of abortion movies, which includes Mai Sin Rai Fai Sawat (ไม่สิ้นไร้ไฟสวาท กับการทำแท้งด้วยไม้แขวนเสื้ออันลือลั่น, 1986), which has a famous scene in which the heroine uses a clothes hanger to perform an abortion on herself.
That reminds me of Jan Dara, which had a similar scene, but no clothes hangers were involved.