The Youth Park Swimming Pool in Taipei’s Wanhua District (萬華) yesterday scrapped a deal targetting women wearing bikinis after it was criticized by several women’s rights groups.
The swimming pool, operated by a private organization under a build-operate-transfer (BOT) contract with the Taipei City Government, on Tuesday announced the launch of the deal, named “Bikini Night,” that offered free admission to women wearing bikinis every Wednesday throughout the two-month summer vacation.
However, the deal produced representatives of the Taiwan Women’s Link (TWL) and the Taipei Association for the Promotion of Women’s Rights (TAPWR) to call a press conference yesterday morning to complain about the offer.
“Why is the promotion a ‘bikini night for women’ rather than a ‘thong night for men?’ Why not offer free admission to elderly people who come swimming with their grandchildren instead? [The Bikini Night] is discriminatory to elderly women and women who don’t like to show off their bodies,” TWL director-general Huang Shu-ying (黃淑英) said.
The rights advocates called on the city government to immediately suspend the promotion, which they said was unfair, treated women like objects and discriminated against them.
The rights advocates also cited a campaign by Mala Bay Water World (馬拉灣) in Greater Taichung’s Houli District (后里) in which women wearing bikinis were able to buy an entrance ticket at the discounted price of NT$100, while also receiving a free coupon worth NT$100 to spend on food.
“We urge this water park to refrain from exploiting and discriminating against women and to make the place more family-friendly by offering fairer and more reasonable promotional deals that apply to everyone,” the advocates said.
TAPWR director-general Chen Yi-chun (陳怡君) said the similarities between the swimming pool deal and the one offered by the water park should that the former lacked creativity and tended to cut corners in its marketing.
Huang said the city government should turn the Bikini Night into a “Family Night” that allowed children who came with their parents free entry to the swimming pool.
She also drew attention to the 2011 Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, which required signatories to commit to eliminate any form of discrimination against women.
In response, Lan Shu-fan (藍舒凡), secretary-general of the Parks and Street Lights Office of the Taipei City Government’s Public Works Department, the department responsible for swimming pools, said later yesterday that the summer deal was not meant to discriminate against women.
“However, the office decided to call off the promotion considering the negative impression it had given the public,” Lan said.