Mon, Feb 28, 2005 - Page 1 News List

Taichung extends sex-crime aid to foreign residents

By Cody Yiu  /  STAFF REPORTER

Foreign residents of Taichung City who are victims of sexual offenses will soon be able to seek financial compensation from the government.

Last week Taichung City expanded regulations to include legal foreign residents of the city in a compensation program. The regulation is to be promulgated by the city government soon.

The program aims to provide financial assistance for victims of sexual offenses, and covers the cost of counseling sessions and legal fees associated with the crime.

"As long as the offense falls within the offenses against sexual autonomy described in the Criminal Code, it is considered a sexual violation," a Taichung City social worker said.

Chapter 16 of the Criminal Code, known as Offences Against Sexual Autonomy (妨礙性自主罪), stipulates that anyone who uses coercion, rape or hypnosis to engage a man or a woman in sexual intercourse will face a prison sentence of three to 10 years.

According to Lin Tsyr-ling (林慈玲), executive secretary of the Ministry of the Interior's Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention Committee, more local governments are easing their regulations to include foreigners in the compensation programs.

"Many existing regulations set by local governments do not include people who do not have a household registration in Taiwan. Even if they do, the name of every legal regulation used is different," Lin said.

Most of the regulations are classified under local governments' social welfare systems. As long as a county or city council approves the budget, a local government may initiate this program to assist those who have been violated sexually.

Past victims of sexual crimes may now also seek compensation.

Most commonly, Lin said, the foreigners who seek assistance due to sexual offenses are migrant workers, domestic helpers and caretakers, temporary visitors and foreign spouses.

"Some foreign spouses who need this kind of financial assistance may not qualify because they have yet to be naturalized as Taiwanese citizens," Lin said.

However, if a local government's compensation program does not include foreigners, a foreign national may still apply for financial assistance on a case-by-case basis through the local government's department of social affairs.

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