To make matters even more complicated, there is a very restrictive interpretation of what constitutes a violation of the rights of the person discriminated against. For example, emotional hurt or injury to one’s dignity are not considered to be violations of one’s rights.
All of this hobbles the discrimination clauses in Article 62 of the aforementioned act, making it difficult to punish discrimination or hate speech through legal channels, and the victim of discrimination is left with little choice but to let it go.
When this anti-Filipino feeling broke out, I got in contact with a Filipino friend of mine. She had been our Filipino home help and, unable to obtain residency rights, and wanting to be with her children and husband, is now staying in Taiwan on a student’s visa. Every semester she has to pay the tuition, which is not cheap, and is also expected to look after her aged mother-in-law and little girl. It is not easy.
She originally thought that once her residency status was sorted out, she could make a life for herself in Taiwan. However, with what is happening now, she says she is scared whenever she leaves the house, especially when she goes shopping, because everyone knows she is a Filipina. The shooting was the mistake of a few Filipinos. She is very sad that the man was shot, but finds it difficult to understand why some Taiwanese now hate all Filipinos.
The string of anti-Filipino incidents and verbal abuse makes a lie of the government’s long-held yet extremely weak and vacuous claim that Taiwan is a multicultural society that respects other ethnic groups. I only hope that the government and civil society can now, at the very least, start applying the supposedly “effective” anti-discrimination measures already in place.
Cheng Shih-ying is a social worker at the TransAsia Sisters Association of Taiwan.
Translated by Perry Svensson and Paul Cooper