Fri, Feb 24, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Harassment law poorly promoted, legislators say

MORE EFFORT NEEDED Civic groups and lawmakers met yesterday to talk about problems with the new law and to seek ways of better promoting it with employers

By Jean Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

A public hearing on problems with the Sexual Harassment Prevention Law (性騷擾防治法) drew legislators and representatives from civic groups to the Legislative Yuan yesterday, where they urged local governments to step up efforts to promote and educate the public and employers about the new law.

Director of the Taipei Twins Association and Commission on Women's Rights Protection committee member Chang Chueh (張玨) said that most government agencies did not understand the harassment prevention law.

The government should not just be educating the public when they themselves do not understand the law, Chang said.

In addition, inter-governmental cooperation is crucial for the new law to be effective, she added.

Kao Feng-hsien (高鳳仙), a judge, said the law stipulates that a sexual harassment prevention committee must be established by local governments, but many agencies are trying to pass off their already-established gender-equality committees as harassment prevention committees.

She said the two committees are not the same, as the harassment prevention committee promotes safety in addition to equality.

One of the biggest problems with the new law was that it stipulates that employers must look into sexual harassment cases involving employees where alleged offenses take place away from the workplace, she said.

The police still have overall responsibility for such cases even though employers play the primary role when looking into the matter, she added.

Kao said that many employers have reacted negatively to the new regulations because of a lack of understanding.

The Ministry of the Interior should use more effective methods in educating employers about the new law, she said.

Ministry officials said that extra personnel are being trained to serve on local government prevention committees and fliers have been distributed to employers regarding procedures for reporting incidents of harassment.

However, ministry fliers have come under fire from legislators as they depict scantily clad and busty women.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Joanna Lei (雷倩) said that the ministry should be more sensitive to harassment issues, adding that voluptuous women are not the only victims of harassment.

KMT Legislator Wang Yu-ting (王昱婷) added that the fliers indicated that the ministry cultivated stereotypes of women and that men should also be included in the fliers since they could also be victims of sexual harassment.

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