On one of her six attacks over two years, Naoko Fusada* was punched repeatedly in the face. It was 7pm, and the area around streets 310 and 143 was busy with cars and people.
A motorbike had cut off her bicycle, the assailants after her phone. People stopped to watch but no one helped, although she was screaming. Eventually a foreign man ran up and the assailants sped away on the bike. “Tourists don’t usually have that much money on them. Why don’t they go after someone with a car? They see me as an easy target,” she said. “They think females are weak and Asians are stupid.”
She said she doesn’t trust tuk-tuk and moto drivers, since some of them are part of the gangs, but when going out in the evening they are still safer than her bicycle. She has even had a necklace ripped from her neck while riding. The assailants are organised and good at what they do, she said.
“They’re so fast, so professional,” she added. “Bag-snatching attacks around 2011 would only happen late at night, maybe in areas like Street 51, to foreign – especially Asian – women walking alone, and mainly before big festivals. Then it started happening earlier, in the daytime, to men, to locals, anywhere in town, any day of the year,” she said.
Many of her friends have also been targeted and are afraid whenever they step outside. “Going to the police is a waste of time,” she said. “They demand money and then blame the victim.”
*Naoko Fusada asked Post Weekend not to use her real name