President Chen Shui-bian (
To raise awareness of domestic violence and encourage men to participate in joining their efforts to end the problem, the Garden of Hope Foundation invited Chen to meet with the women.
During the gathering with the women and their children, Chen was presented with a bracelet made at the foundation's employment project in Taitung. He listened carefully as the women shared their stories.
"I am a foreign spouse from China who was abused by my husband from the time we were married. I am glad that I received help from the foundation, and I hope I will be the last victim of domestic violence," one woman said, reading from a card she had prepared to present to the president. She wished not to be named.
Chien Rong (簡蓉), a 53-year-old woman who endured her husband's violence for 25 years before divorcing him four years ago, suggested that the government should educate the police about the seriousness of domestic violence and teach them how to deal with the problem when receiving calls from victims, instead of treating it as merely a family matter.
"Besides, the government should allocate more money to establish more shelters and sponsor employment projects for the victims, so that those women can support themselves both mentally and financially," she suggested.
According to the Ministry of the Interior, there were over 30,000 cases of domestic violence last year, with an average of more than 130 incidents reported every day.
Chien said that most abused women she knew, including herself, suffered from depression because of the abuse and also because of concerns over an uncertain future if they left their husbands.
"It is very important to equip abused women with professional skills. With a steady job and financial support, I believe more women would be able to empower themselves and rebuild their lives," she said.
Responding to the women's concerns, Chen promised to put more effort toward ending domestic abuse.
With more help now available, women who suffer from domestic violence should bravely seek assistance, Chen said. In addition to the assistance from many social welfare institutes, the government will join with civic groups to end such violence, he said.
"As the husband of a disabled woman -- who manages to be an excellent wife and mother -- I've witnessed the strength of women. I admire you all for being brave in fighting against violence, and encourage more women who suffer from the same situation to walk out of the darkness," Chen said.
Statistics from the foundation show that almost 90 percent of the victims of domestic violence are women, with the majority beingbetween 31 and 40 years old.
According to a Web survey conducted by the foundation this month and last month, more than 80 percent of the men who took the survey think that domestic violence is an important issue, with 70 percent approving of the establishment of laws and involving social welfare institutes to solve the problem.