PHUKET: Women on Phuket should be horrified at the behavior of the Australian tourist who ''cried wolf'' this week over rape.
Fifteen days in a Phuket jail seems fitting punishment for lying to Patong police about such a serious matter.
To go from a world of privilege and partying to a crowded dormitory cell in another country - where English is not spoken widely - will be a disconcerting experience, and perhaps a good lesson.
The Sydney 21-year-old's thoughtless behavior has left all women on Phuket worse off. Why? Because it's a case that is the exception, rather than the rule.
And it comes just as efforts were being made to ensure all police on Phuket respond with care and consideration to all allegations of rape.
In the past, women who have been courageous enough to go to police on Phuket to lodge a complaint of rape have not always been certain of receiving care and consideration.
There are times when appalling violations have been greeted with disbelief or disdain by police. In a recent case, one officer even thought he was doing the right thing by bringing the alleged perpetrator to greet his victim ''to apologise.''
It's worth remembering that for every rape reported to police, there are probably 20 that go unreported.
Thankfully, Phuket's no-nonsense Police Commander, Major General Chonsit Wadhnawarangkun, has heeded the pleas from Phuket's honorary consuls to ensure that complaints of rape are always treated with care and consideration.
Female tourists as well as Thais living on Phuket will be eternally grateful if they can be assured that every effort is being made to make sure Phuket's reputation as a safe place for all is maintained.
Visitors need to know, though, that the same kinds of precautions have to be taken on holiday on Phuket as at home: never get into a taxi or a tuk-tuk alone, especially at night after having a few drinks. Try to avoid areas where you are on your own any time, but especially parks and beaches after dark.
These precautions need to be taken not because Phuket is any more dangerous than other places, but because tropical holiday islands are no less dangerous than other places.
Visitors have a tendency to succumb quickly to the Phuket holiday mentality that sunshine brings on, the feeling that life is wonderful and nothing can go wrong. It just isn't true.
There was a time when this week's rape lie would have become an important topic for the next honorary consuls' meeting with the Phuket Governor, the Phuket Police Commander and other leading officials.
Alarmingly, no date has been proposed for the next three-monthly honorary consuls' meeting, which was due to be held around May 23.
If there is no plan for more honorary consuls' meetings to be held, it's about time somebody said so. That regular envoys' forum is what led to Phuket having its first woman police officer appointed specifically to deal with rape cases.
With no more meetings planned to discuss rape and other important issues of public safety and security, there is no public forum for discussion about alleged assaults and rip-offs, either.
And the women of Phuket - Thais, expats and tourists - will simply have to fall back on their own courage in complaining about rape in future.