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Sun, Oct 24, 1999 - Page 2 News List

Charity carwash rape victims will resume their jobs

By Yu Sen-lun  /  STAFF REPORTER

After the rape of three mentally challenged women in a charity carwash, a parents' group said yesterday disadvantaged people should not be over protected because of the incident.

"We must not give up their right to work and to adapt to society," said Chen Chieh-ju (陳節如), chairperson of the Parents' Association for Persons with Intellectual Disability (智障者家長總會).

The Sunshine Carwash Center (陽光洗車中心) in Hsintien (新店), a government-sponsored work-place, operated by the Sunshine Foundation for Social Welfare, made a public apology yesterday and said more female supervisors would be employed in the workplace.

According to Taipei County police reports on Friday, the three employees at the Sunshine Carwash Center said they were raped by their supervisor Liu Ming-fa (劉明法).

Liu, 44, who is physically disabled because of polio, was said to have raped the three women since July. He attacked the victims before work, in the early morning, on the pretext of doing health checkups and threatened to sack the three if they told anyone.

In response to parents' concern over the safety of working places for the mentally challenged, Chen said society should give the disabled more support and not stop them from having jobs and a life in the community.

"In Taiwan, one family out of 50 has a mentally challenged member. If parents impose too much protection on their children, the life of the mentally challenged will increasingly tend towards social segregation from mainstream society."

Chen emphasized that public attention should be directed to the problems of sexual assault and discrimination in the workplace.

According to Yu Mei-nu (尤美女), a director from the Awakening Foundation and an attorney at law, a conviction of sexual assault to a mentally challenged person would could result in a seven-year to life sentence.

Yu also pointed out, that under the newly amended Employment Services Law, the employer would have a fine imposed on him ranging from NT$3,000 to NT$30,000, if there was a proven case of sexual assault or sexual discrimination in the workplace.

The Sunshine Foundation of Social Welfare was founded eight-years ago and now runs two carwash centers in Taipei, hiring 65 physically or mentally challenged staffers, three social workers and an instructor.

Ting Mei-yun, (丁美雲) the group's public relations director, admitted that there were faults in the management at the carwash center.

"The center is a place to provide opportunity for the disabled to be part of the society. We are very sorry and the last thing we wanted to happen has, in fact, happened."

Ting said the center will increase the number of female supervisors and ensure they accompany the employees at all times while they are working.

The foundation has been providing psychological counseling for the three victims since last week, and parents of the women agreed they should resume work when they felt ready, Ting said.

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