With cases of obsessed lovers or stalkers turning violent a common item in news reports, it is flabbergasting that Taiwan still does not have anti-stalking legislation.
The Domestic Violence Prevention Act (家庭暴力防治法) and the Criminal Code treat stalking as an “incident” rather than repetitive and continuous behavior, punishable only by small fines. Restraining orders are only allowed when the victim has some kind of family or romantic relationship with the stalker, denying the option to victims of anonymous stalkers.
This issue has been brought up many times in the past, especially after a survey last year by the Ministry of Health and Welfare that showed that 5.2 percent of women between the ages of 18 and 74 have been stalked or harassed, but nothing has been done.
Tragedy struck again two weeks ago when a male university student surnamed Chen (陳) allegedly stabbed a female student he had been stalking for five years, reigniting the call for such laws to be enacted.
The need to enact anti-harassment and anti-stalking legislation is obvious, but it took another near-fatal incident to bring the issue to the public’s attention.
Deputy Minister of the Interior Hua Ching-chun (花敬群) has promised that a draft bill would be finalized in two months — and this time the public should watch closely to see if the government delivers.
Before the law is changed, other safeguards should be put in place to prevent similar cases getting out of hand. Reports show that the victim’s family had long been aware of Chen’s behavior, but why was nothing done about it for five years? Even after the victim reported the stalking to the police (he even stalked her into the police station), she and her family did not want to press charges, because they did not want Chen to have a police record.
Nothing presumably happened to Chen after that incident, as the police simply notified his parents to take him home. It seems there were many opportunities to do something, but nobody took the situation seriously.
Could the victim’s family have told the school or intervened earlier? Could Chen’s parents have sent him to counseling after learning of his disturbing behavior? What happened had little to do with whether Chen’s stalking was legal or not, especially since the victim declined to press charges.
Having proper laws to protect stalking victims is absolutely necessary, but providing or encouraging victims to seek early intervention before things get out of hand is just as important. Parents or school officials should be less dismissive when students seek help and not wait until tragedy strikes.
Legality aside, perhaps the way movies, television dramas and even pop songs portray “love” should be reviewed. Too often, obsessive, unrequited love is portrayed as “romantic,” and these shows often conclude with the “stalker” being rewarded. This gives the wrong message that persistence will work in any situation, regardless of how many times the victim says “no.”
Educating young people about boundaries and consent is increasingly important, especially considering recent events in Hollywood, and schools should take the opportunity to address the issue.
Although relationships are complicated and it is difficult to come up with an absolute doctrine to ensure proper behavior in all situations, a good start is making it clear that stalking is not acceptable and victims should seek help as soon as possible.
On Sept. 27, 2002, the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste (East Timor) joined the UN to become its 191st member. Since then, two other nations have joined, Montenegro on June 28, 2006, and South Sudan on July 14, 2011. The combined total of the populations of these three nations is just more than half that of Taiwan’s 23.7 million people. East Timor has 1.3 million, Montenegro has slightly more than half a million and South Sudan has 10.9 million. They all are members of the UN, yet much more populous Taiwan is denied membership. Of the three, East Timor, as a Southeast Asian
Taiwan has for decades singlehandedly borne the brunt of a revanchist, ultra-nationalist China — until now. Ever since Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison had the temerity to call for a transparent, international investigation into the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, Beijing has been turning the screws on Canberra. This has included unleashing aggressive “wolf warrior” diplomats to intimidate Australian policymakers, enacting punitive tariffs on its exports, and threatening an embargo on Chinese tourists and students to the nation. A tense situation became more serious on June 19 after Morrison revealed that a “sophisticated state-based actor” — read: China — had launched a
There have been media reports that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) plans to hold military exercises in August to simulate seizing the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Islands, 東沙群島) in the South China Sea. In the past, only Coast Guard Administration (CGA) personnel have been stationed there, but the Ministry of National Defense has dispatched the Republic of China Marine Corps to the islands, nominally for “ex-situ training,” to prevent a Chinese attack under the guise of military drills. The move is only a temporary measure and not sufficiently proactive. Instead, the government should officially declare sovereignty over the islands and station troops
Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴) is to be Taiwan’s next representative to the US. Hsiao is well versed in international affairs and Taiwan-US relations. In her days as a student in the US, she was a member of the Formosan Association for Public Affairs (FAPA) and served as chief executive of the Democratic Progressive Party’s US mission. She is familiar with a broad spectrum of Taiwanese affairs in the US. FAPA hopes that Hsiao, after taking up her new post, would continue to deepen and normalize relations between Taiwan and the US, and that she would try to get a free-trade agreement