Thu, Feb 27, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Lawmakers seek tougher penalties for repeat rapists

AMENDMENTS Two legislators say changes to the Criminal Code are needed to protect the rights of rape victims and punish their attackers

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

DPP Legislator Lee Chen-nan (李鎮楠) and KMT Legislator Hou Tsai-feng (侯彩鳳) yesterday called for amending the Criminal Code in order to provide better protection for rape victims and tougher sentencing for rapists.

"The rights of rape victims should be taken care of and protected, so we are urging our legislative colleagues to support our proposal to increase the penalties for serial rapists," the lawmakers said at a press conference at the Legislative Yuan yesterday morning.

"I would strongly suggest that our colleagues show their concerns toward the human rights of victims of sexual offenses," Lee said. "The proposal is necessary because such victims usually suffer both physical and emotional injuries. However, the present law is too easy on sexual offenders, so it is not good enough to make up to victims when it comes to human rights."

Lee and Hou want to get Articles 47, 221 and 222 of the Criminal Code amended.

According to their proposal, judges would be authorized to give repeat rapists or sexual offenders sentences of more than seven years or life imprisonment.

At present a repeat rapist can be sentenced to no more than 15 years in jail.

Lee and Hou's proposal has been endorsed by 70 lawmakers so far. They need another 43 signatures to be able to submit the bill to the Legislative Yuan for consideration.

At the press conference, Lee and Hou displayed Ministry of Justice statistics that show an increasing number of sexual offense cases, as well as a rising number of repeat offenders.

The statistics show that 340 people were convicted for sexual offenses in 1999. In 2001, 937 people were convicted of such offenses, including 358 who were repeat offenders.

"We do not know whether the lenient penalties for sex offenses encouraged these repeated offenders. But we hope to protect more innocent women," Hou said.

Lee also said that he has heard frequent complaints from judges frustrated because they feel that they lack enough options for penalizing repeat rapists.

"A judge told me that he would like to give a 20-year sentence to a repeat rapist but he could not do so because the law did not authorize him to do so," Lee said. "We hope that these kinds of frustrations will not exist in the future."

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