Wed, Jul 11, 2018 - Page 13 News List

Why college students in Taiwan hesitate to report sexual harassment

An ineffective reporting system, fear of repercussions and a lack of protections keep young women from reporting

By Joy Chang  /  Contributing reporter

Victims also fear that their family or friends may not believe them because the accusation is made against a personal acquaintance.

And since it is likely the victim will face their perpetrators again, many choose to endure for fear of repercussion, and to avoid social pressures.

Tu, who has worked for the Garden of Hope for more than two decades and has helped in the recovery of numerous victims of sexual assault and harassment, says it isn’t uncommon for a teacher to fail a student who has gone public with accusations of sexual harassment.

“Victims fear that people won’t believe them due to the reputation of the perpetrators,” Tu says.


Perhaps the stereotypes of sexual harassment and a unfriendly reporting system explain why it is still hard for victims to find their voice nine months after the #MeToo movement began.

In late March, sports news anchor WaWa Chang (張旖旂) was attacked online after she accused sports critic Lee Yi-shen (李亦伸) and photographer Wu Chia-yu (吳嘉祐) of workplace sexual harassment.

“This is not only about speaking up. What comes after that? The support system is not enough,” Huang says.

Tu says that the #MeToo movement faces difficulties in countries that are socially conservative and where sex is not talked about openly.

“There are more people speaking up in America because it’s more open about this topic,” Tu says.

For a discussion on sexual harassment and assault to take place, the support system needs to be improved so that victims feel safe speaking up, Tu says. She adds that creating this environment requires gender equality education.

“Your instinct is often right: say no if you feel something’s wrong and avoid being in the same place with [the perpetrator],” Tu says. She adds that schools need to educate students to be aware when a teacher or fellow student acts inappropriately, and how to respond.

If sexual harassment or assault has already occurred, Tu says victims should keep as much evidence as possible, including text messages. Friends and family should encourage the victim to speak up.

For institutions handling sexual harassment cases — whether a gender equity education committee on campus or workplace or judicial authorities — better training needs to be implemented.

“People who are handling these cases need to be educated on what constitutes sexual violence. They also need to acknowledge the power relations between victims and their perpetrators,” Tu says.

Under the guidelines of the Gender Equity Education Act (性別平等教育法), students enrolled at compulsory educational institutions after 2004 learn about gender equality and gender diversity.

“But many who left school before 2004 have no idea what gender equality is,” Yu says.

Yu calls this group “gender blind” (性別盲), saying that even though there has been workplace and public sector training on gender equality, most of them are still unaware of the power imbalance in sexual violence.

“There’s a generation gap here,” Yu says. “When victims are coming forward to talk about their cases today, the people they’re facing — the people who are in power now — are those who are in their 50s or 60s, those who have never received gender equality education.”

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