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Sun, Jul 16, 2000 - Page 2 News List

Equal rights for women is slow, slow work

GENDER A man who divorced his comatose wife, and obtained custody of their child, has highlighted the glaring inequalities in Taiwan's archaic divorce laws, activists say

By Irene Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

"The law has limits, especially in regard to family matters," Sheng said. "I always feel society expects too much of the court to resolve problems of a family. How can you expect judges to take sides when they're also supposed to be neutral toward all disputes?"

Marriage ends, obligations don't

Time passes and society changes, but many women still feel it is a moral flaw to walk away from a marriage, even if they are not happy with it.

"We don't want to encourage moralistic thoughts, because it's unfair to have one party stuck in an unhappy marriage just to make others feel comfortable," said Yang Feng-wan (楊芳婉), also long-time women's rights activist and a lawyer.

Women's groups have made great efforts to fight for better protection for women under the existing legal framework and have also taken pains to help people understand the nature of marriage.

"When love is gone, it's painful to remain in a relationship. This is true both for men and women," Yang said. "I think what has made divorce such a terrible word in Taiwan is a misunderstanding about the nature of marriage. Love is the foundation of marriage. But with marriage also come obligations. A marriage might end, but the obligations won't," Yang said. "As long as it is safe, no one should be afraid of walking out of a unhappy marriage."

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