Women's groups gathered yesterday to commemorate the ninth anniversary of the murder of feminist Peng Wan-ru (
Peng, chief of the Democratic Progressive Party's (DPP) Women's Affairs Department, was raped and killed while in Kaohsiung for a party meeting. She was last seen getting into a taxi the night before the DPP convention; her body was found three days later outside an abandoned Kaohsiung County warehouse, with more than 30 stab wounds.
Her killer was never caught.
Peng's murder underscored the threat to women's safety in this country. At the time of her murder, the focus was on crime prevention and public safety, the groups said yesterday, while the gender issue was largely ignored.
However, in memory of Peng, many women's groups were formed and these groups worked together to pressure the government into establishing new laws and regulations to protect the rights of women, said Chen Man-li (陳曼麗), director of the National Union of Taiwan Women Association.
These organizations have also provided women with employment counseling and legal aid over the years, including services for foreign spouses, whose numbers have skyrocketed in the recent years, Chen said.
The groups used yesterday's gathering to review the government's efforts in the past nine years to protect women's rights.
Attorney Yu Mei-nu (尤美女) recalled that at a conference held after Peng's murder, the Executive Yuan established the Committee for the Promotion of Women's Rights in 1997, while the Ministry of Education set up the Committee for Gender Equality Education. In 1999, the Ministry of the Interior established the Committee Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Abuse, she said.
Yu said that Peng's death highlighted the plight of women both for the general public and the government and also helped encourage inter-governmental cooperation to protect women's rights.
In recent years, several laws have also been passed to ensure women's rights, Yu said, such as the Domestic Violence Law (家暴法) in 1998 and the Sexual Assault Protection Law (性騷擾防治法), which was passed earlier this year.
In addition, more women have taken an active role in politics and are no longer mere observers anymore, said Huang Tsang-ling (黃長玲), chairwoman of the Awakening Foundation.
Huang said a major breakthrough was made in 1997, when the DPP passed a measure to reserve for "either sex" one-quarter of all seats of elected party committees and candidates for elected public offices.
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) followed suit, stipulating that at least one-fourth of its committee members and candidate slots would be for women, Huang said.