Despite efforts by local women's rights groups to promote the decriminalization of adultery in Taiwan, 79 percent of respondents to a survey released yesterday disapprove of the idea and believe that adultery should remain subject to criminal penalties.
In the case of a husband having an extra-marital relationship, 43 percent of the respondents said that the married man who broke his marriage vows, rather than his mistress, should be punished.
Officials at the National Union of Taiwan Women's Associations, a co-organizer of the survey, noted that the results were in contradiction to the present situation, in which most wives opt to sue their husbands' mistresses, but not their husbands, in adultery cases.
The survey was conducted by the union in cooperation with the Constitutional Reform Alliance from March 23 to April 15 among 6,439 people, with women accounting for 60 percent of respondents and men making up the other 40 percent.
In the case of a woman engaging in a sex trade with a married man, approximately 60 percent of the respondents said both parties should be punished.
Seventy-six percent of the respondents did not think that sex should be traded and less than 10 percent of the respondents supported the idea of publicizing the names of those caught patronizing prostitutes.
On the issue of whether children should be allowed to take their maternal surnames, 59 percent of the respondents believed children should have the right to decide for themselves when they reach adulthood, and 97 percent thought maternal surnames should be allowed under certain conditions.
On the applicability of artificial reproduction for single women, 41 percent of the respondents said the women concerned should have the right to decide for themselves, and 26 percent said they should be allowed to use the technology after obtaining the consent of their partners.
Homosexual relationships were acceptable to 75 percent of the respondents, with 25 percent opposing same-sex marriage.
Meanwhile, women's rights activists expressed doubts over the practicality of the government's plan to provide subsidies to female workers on unpaid maternity leave when pregnancy discrimination remains a common problem in the workplace in Taiwan.
In a bid to boost the country's fertility rate, the Council of Labor Affairs unveiled early this week a plan to provide a monthly subsidy of NT$13,500 (US$430) for up to six months to female workers on unpaid childcare leave. The program is expected to be put into force at the end of this year at the earliest.
Officials at the Awakening Foundation said that although the Gender Equality Employment Law (兩性工作平等法) forbade employers from dismissing workers on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth or childcare, the Taipei City government received 103 complaints related to pregnancy discrimination between October 1995 and November 2003.
While the law allowed workers to take leave without pay for up to one year to take care of their babies, only workers at 24.5 percent of local businesses have asked for the leave, they said.