Tue, Nov 23, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Poll shows strong support for harassment legislation

By Cody Yiu  /  STAFF REPORTER

A poll conducted by a handful of women's and children's groups showed that an overwhelming majority of respondents want to be able to address sexual harassment through legal measures.

1,472 individuals participated in an online questionnaire posted this month and last. Fully 90 percent of participants strongly favored the establishment of a law that would specifically address the problem.

The draft Sexual Harassment Prevention Act, along with amendments to two existing laws, are being pushed by an alliance of civic groups, which included Garden of Hope Foundation, Children's Welfare League Foundation and Modern Women's Foundation.

The result of the poll was released by the alliance yesterday as an effort to show appreciation to legislators who have supported the sexual harrassment draft law.

The two other laws are the Sexual Abuse Prevention Act (性侵害防治法) and Domestic Violence Prevention Act (家庭暴力防治法). The amendments to these two already-enacted laws are still pending.

In this survey, designed by National Taiwan University women's research program associate professor Chang Chueh (張玨), 72 percent of respondents said they had been sexually harassed either through receiving e-mail containing pornography or through verbal and physical acts.

Twenty percent of respondents had experienced sexual harassment in public places and 15 percent experienced it in the workplace. Thirty-eight percent of harassers were strangers, followed by family and friends.

"According to the poll, most of those who had been sexually harassed were too embarrassed to mention the incident to others and had no idea of how to seek help," said Garden of Hope executive director Chi Hui-jung (紀惠容).

Harassment survey

* 90 percent of participants strongly favored the establishment of a sexual harassment law

* 72 percent of respondents said they had been sexually harassed

* 20 percent of respondents had experienced sexual harassment in public places

* 15 percent experienced it in the workplace

* 38 percent of harassers were strangers, followed by family and friends.

Source: recent survey by an alliance of civic groups


An overwhelming 90 percent of the respondents who were in favor of the legislation considered it a measure to safeguard women's rights and personal safety.

The alliance completed their version of the draft law in March 1999, sent it to the Legislative Yuan for proposed revision, and received support from numerous legislators across the political spectrum.

However, according to the alliance, the draft law has been stalled because the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) has failed to present its official version.

A sticking point has been the draft law's stipulation that reconciliation between the victim and harassers would be carried out by the MOI's Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention Committee.

"The MOI has not shown interest in being in charge of sexual harassment issues, that is why the legislation has not moved forward," said Judge Gau Fehng-shian (高鳳仙) of the Taiwan High Court, an active member of the alliance.

Gau explained that most victims of sexual harassment are unwilling to confront their harassers face-to-face in court. Therefore, having a system of reconciliation would serve to protect victims, as well as providing a mechanism for resolving harassment cases.

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