Sun, Oct 16, 2005 - Page 2 News List

New sexual assault law needs revising: legislator

UNFAIR BILL A legislator claimed that the new law puts too much of a burden on employees and could also lead to some offenders getting off with light sentences

By Jenny Chou  /  STAFF REPORTER

A Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmaker yesterday called into question the new sexual assault protection law, in hopes that some areas of the new bill could be reviewed and revised.

Apart from placing an extra unjustified burden on employers, DPP Legislator Huang Sue-ying (黃淑英) yesterday claimed that the new law blurred the distinction between certain offenses and might allow some offenders to get away with lighter sentences.

The new sexual assault protection law (性騷擾防治法), due to take effect in February next year, specifies that the employer of the offender is to be responsible for investigations into sexual assault claims occurring out of the work context.

"Asking employers to conduct investigations for assaults that take place outside of the workplace puts them in a difficult position and is a matter they are both unable to comprehend or are happy with," Huang said.

President of Trump Chemical Corp, Simon Yu (余榮昌) said, "We definitely have a responsibility for the actions of our employees in the workplace, but what they do outside of the workplace shouldn't be our responsibility."

Presently, there are already two current sexual assault protection laws, specific to assaults which happen in schools and in workplaces.

The new sexual assault law, which aims to compensate for cases not dealt with under current laws, such as when an employee attacks someone in a public place, will co-exist with current laws.

Whilst offenders who are punishable under current laws do not have to pay an administrative fine, offenders punishable under the new law will be required to pay an additional NT$10,000 (US$300) fine to the government, which Huang thought was unfair.

"Here we see a case of three ways of dealing with what is essentially the same act," Huang said.

Attorney of Law at the Taipei Association for the Promotion of Women's Rights, Lee Chao-huan (李兆環) feared that under regulation 25 of the new law, which specifies which particular actions constitute sexual assault, some offenders will get off lightly.

"Cases of sexual assault -- which may have been punishable under laws to do with indecent actions in the past -- might now be punished under the new sexual assault protection law, which has lighter sentencing," Lee said.

Under the new sexual assault law, sentences maybe up to two years, whereas under the indecent action law sentences are between six months to five years.

In response to accusations that unfair burden was being placed upon employers, Executive Secretary of the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention committee and the Ministry of the Interior (MOI), Lin Tsyr-ling (林慈玲) said, "At present, employers are required to investigate matters of sexual assault occurring in the workplace anyway.

We are only widening the area of their responsibility. The spirit of the new law is the same."

In regards to claims that offenders would get off with lighter sentences under the new law, Lin said it was really the opposite.

"In the past, sexual assault crimes which fell below the threshold of indecency went unpunished. By distinguishing between acts of indecent assault and sexual assault, people will receive protection against all forms of sexual molestation," Lin said.

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