Wed, Sep 15, 1999 - Page 1 News List

Women celebrate legal reform drive

By Yu Sen-Lun  /  STAFF REPORTER

The first women's law reference book, "Women's Six Laws -- A compilation of women's rights-related laws and practices" was released yesterday in the hopes of helping Taiwan's women be better equipped to protect themselves.

The 655-page reference book was published by the Foundation of Equal Rights and Advancement of Women (婦女權益促進發展基金會) -- a government funded organization. It was edited by attorney Jennifer Wang (王如玄), the chairperson of the Awakening Foundation.

The book details all laws enacted or amended over the past ten years that relate specifically to women, including amendments to the Criminal Law, amendments on the Civil Law's domestic relation section, the Sexual Assault Prevention Law, and the Domestic Violence Prevention Law.

Deputy Premier Liu Chao-shiuan (劉兆玄), also the board chairman of the foundation, said the book's publication was a tribute to Wang and other women activists who helped legitimize gender-related laws over the past decade.

"The book is a manifestation of ten years of `women make law movement' (女人立法) in Taiwan's society," said Liu at yesterday's book-launching party.

Ten years ago, because of sexual discrimination in an employment case, Yu Mei-Nu (尤美女), a woman lawyer and former board member of the Awakening Foundation, teamed up with other women lawyers on a project to initiate a law to ensure equal employment between men and women.

The project resulted in a draft of the Workplace Gender Equity Bill, legislation that is expected to be passed in the current legislative session.

According to Wang, the heroines of the ten-year "women make law" movement include Tu Hsiu-ray and lawyers Wang Ching-fong (王清峰) of the Women's Rescue Foundation, Yang Fang-wan (楊芳婉) of the Taipei Awakening Association, and Shen Mei-cheng (沈美真).

However, she said justice between the genders in Taiwan has not yet been achieved. "For example, mechanisms related to the Domestic Violence Prevention Law, among others, are still incomplete," Wang said. "Taiwan's gender education has just started, and we have a long way to go .... But this book can be a first and important step."

The Foundation of Equal Rights and Advancement of Women also released a survey of Taiwan women yesterday to coincide with the book's publication. The poll on women's rights and fears showed that over 80 percent of respondents were unaware or unfamiliar with the laws that could protect them.

The poll, conducted by the CTN Poll and Market Research Center, showed two-thirds (65 percent) of 1,070 women did not know if there were laws to ensure their rights.

More than 71 percent of respondents worried about being sexually harassed on public transportation and in public places. Half feared becoming the victim of a sexual assault; 48 percent feared being harassed on campus; and almost 21 percent were worried about confronting domestic violence.

Along with the publishing of the book, a series of lectures and study groups will be held to promote the awareness of laws protecting women. Taiwanese opera (歌仔戲) actress Sun Tsuai-fong (孫翠鳳) is the public ambassador for the campaign. She often plays male roles. "I prefer playing as a man because I do not have to experience of the tragic lives of women in the old times depicted in the drama," she said. "I used to enjoy the power being as a man in the drama."

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