Tue, Dec 11, 2018 - Page 8 News List

EDITORIAL: Tackling sexual harassment

The Legislative Yuan on Friday passed amendments to the Gender Equality Education Act (性別平等教育法) to facilitate the reporting of sexual harassment by school faculty.

This is a positive step, but more should be done to make victims of sexual harassment feel safer in coming forward.

Participants at an April 1 rally in Taipei said they hoped to expose a culture that tends to shame victims and make them shoulder the blame.

A poll released on March 31 showed that 65 percent of all respondents and 70 percent of male respondents agreed that a woman bears some responsibility for being sexually assaulted if she is too uninhibited, wears sexy clothing or frequents nightclubs, while 66 percent of the male respondents believed a woman wants to have sex if she is alone in a room with a man.

Taiwan Women’s Link founder Huang Sue-ying (黃淑英) said that harassment is largely endured by the victim, because it is considered acceptable behavior.

In “Why college students in Taiwan hesitate to report sexual harassment” (Taipei Times, July 11, page 13), Tamkang University student Tso Shin-pin (左欣平) described freezing up when her professor unexpectedly hugged her, after which she dropped the course rather than file a report with the school.

It was not the first time that she was made to feel uncomfortable, Tso said, describing an incident where a classmate had caressed her thigh without permission while driving her to school.

Professors accused of sexual misconduct often keep their jobs, said Jhon Jhia-jhain (鍾佳臻), a student representative on Tamkang University’s gender equity education committee, but added that most often the behavior goes unreported for fear of consequences.

Victims feel uncomfortable and do not want to make a situation more awkward when the harasser is an acquaintance or someone in a position of authority, Huang said.

On Dec. 13 last year, a BBC report quoted Anisha Joseph of the Association for Action and Research in Singapore as saying that women in Asian societies often feel awkward reporting superiors for harassment and worry that they will not be believed, despite women making up about half of the workforce in most Asian countries.

“A lot of women dress highly inappropriately for work in some Asian countries ... like they’re going to a nightclub,” a man, who wished to remain anonymous, told the BBC reporters. “I am not saying that they’re asking for it, but it does make the message they’re sending hard to read — and that could lead to misunderstandings.”

Another man in the report said that traditional and contemporary ideas often conflict in Asian work environments.

“Men completely misinterpret friendly office banter and think their female colleagues are flirting with them,” the man said.

On Friday last week, Taiwanese film director Doze Niu (鈕承澤) was questioned by the Taipei police after a female colleague on a film set accused him of sexual assault. Niu reportedly told police that the woman was his girlfriend, a claim the woman denied, saying that she and Niu had only exchanged greetings before the incident and that she had turned down his invitation for drinks.

On June 18, the dismembered body of a woman allegedly killed by her archery instructor was found on a mountain in New Taipei City. According to police, suspect Chen Po-chien (陳伯謙) confessed to strangling her to death on June 1, because she rejected his sexual advances after they had drinks together at his studio.

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