Fri, Jan 16, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Writer, activist Shih Chi-ching dies at 68

MUCH-ADMIRED:The multitalented women’s rights activist was known for her sharp wit and humor, and for encouraging women to leave unhappy marriages

Staff writer, with CNA

Local writer and women’s rights advocate Shih Chi-ching, second right, poses for a picture during the recording of a Public Television Service program in an undated photograph.

Photo courtesy of Public Television Service

Local writer and women’s rights advocate Shih Chi-ching (施寄青) died on Tuesday of a heart attack at the age of 68, police and prosecutors confirmed on Wednesday.

Shih was found by her godson at about 10pm on Tuesday on the bathroom floor in her home in Miaoli’s Nanjhuang Township (南庄), they said. There were no signs indicating a struggle.

Shih died before an ambulance arrived and no attempts to resuscitate her were performed to respect the writer’s wishes as stated in her will, they said.

A longtime sufferer of heart disease, Shih underwent heart surgery more than a decade ago.

Born in 1947 in China, Shih and her family relocated to Taiwan in 1949.

Shih graduated from the Chinese literature department at National Chengchi University and taught at Taipei Municipal Jianguo High School, the top boys’ senior high school in Taipei.

She was well known for advocating women’s rights. In 1988, she founded the women’s association Warm Life (晚晴協會) and served as its head, and she also served as a consultant and board member for local women’s rights group the Awakening Foundation (婦女新知基金會).

Her earlier works focused on women’s rights and gender education, while her later works emphasized religion and the supernatural.

In 1989, her book Zou Guo Hun Yin (走過婚姻, “Having been married”) about her marriage, divorce and her path to becoming a women’s rights advocate became a bestseller, earning her the title “Divorce Guru.”

She famously said that if she had not gotten a divorce, she would have led a dull life.

Shih also translated books such as Alice Walker’s The Color Purple and E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India into Chinese.

In 1996, the writer decided to run in the first-ever direct presidential election, coming up with the campaign slogans “Let women run the country” and “Liberate domestic slaves,” but she failed to garner enough signatures to qualify as a candidate.

Before her death, she was scheduled to attend a talk about her new book Dang Tou Bang He (當頭棒喝, “A strike and a shout to the face”) at the Taipei International Book Exhibition next month.

The book is a collaboration between Shih and a psychic about their attempts to help people resolve their issues in the present by recalling their experiences in past lives.

Representatives of local women’s rights groups were in mourning on Wednesday, praising Shih’s contribution to the local women’s rights movement.

Awakening Foundation chairwoman Chen Yi-chien (陳宜倩) said she was shocked to hear the news and expressed her admiration for the writer.

Shih made many contributions to reforms of the nation’s divorce laws, which have historically favored men, Chen said.

Shih was not afraid to write about her own experiences of marriage and divorce, and she educated many Taiwanese women about how to fight for custody of their children and to protect themselves under the law, National Alliance of Taiwan Women’s Associations vice president Chen Hsiu-hui (陳秀惠) said.

Society was not as open at that time as it is now and many divorced women suffered discrimination, she said, stressing that Warm Life has helped many divorced women.

Garden of Hope Foundation chief executive Chi Hui-jung (紀惠容) said Shih would be remembered as a charismatic speaker and women’s rights advocate.

Even though she had withdrawn from the spotlight in recent years, Shih still frequently donated her royalties and fees from making speeches to women’s rights groups, Chi said, praising the late writer for turning her own struggles into a strength.

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