Wed, Nov 08, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Abused wives ignored: foundation

SWEPT UNDER THE RUG Women who leave abusive marriages often find a chilly reception from a society that is more interested in profits than acting humanely

By Max Hirsch  /  STAFF REPORTER

Women who have escaped from abusive husbands participate in a press conference yesterday held by the Garden of Hope Foundation in Taipei to urge the government to do more to support women struggling to get by after leaving their violent spouses.

PHOTO: CHEN TSE-MING, TAIPEI TIMES

A woman named Chen, 37, is wary of dark alleys for fear that her husband could materialize from the shadows with a knife, as he has before.

Meanwhile, a woman named Chu is so destitute that she can only give her elementary school-age son rice and McDonald's ketchup for dinner some nights.

"My husband often skips making his monthly payments to us," Chu said.

She did not want to give her full name for privacy reasons.

The 52 year-old said that she had once attempted suicide by slashing her wrists when illness made her particularly desperate.

She was saved by paramedics, she said.

"My son told me that he'd rather have a sick mother than a dead one," Chu said.

The two abused wives, wearing hats and oversized sunglasses, tearfully recounted their efforts to escape from their husbands yesterday in a press conference at the Garden of Hope Foundation in Taipei.

Profit

Foundation CEO Chi Hui-jung (紀惠容) said that there are many women like Chen and Chu in Taiwan, but they are swept under the rug in a society that values profit over acting humanely.

"Corporate Taiwan isn't willing to invest in services for such women or give them jobs because they're afraid that doing so wouldn't yield profits," Chi said.

The government needed to step in to provide child care services, social services and welfare and job training for abused women to help them help themselves, she said.

Foundation researcher Tu Ying-chiu (杜瑛秋) said that women like Chen and Chu have to battle against incredible odds to make it in the job market.

Many abused wives who choose to leave their husbands have little or no education or job skills, are often trying to escape their violent spouses and have a child or children in tow, Tu said.

Abused wives who are brave enough to leave their marriages often find a chilly reception from society, which doesn't award good jobs to aging, unskilled mothers, foundation representatives said.

Chu is an example.

She was lucky enough to land a job in a sewing factory shortly after leaving her husband.

She sewed eyes onto stuffed animals for a few weeks until she had an allergic reaction to their polyester, which made her hands swell.

Suffering

Already suffering from a back injury after one of her husband's attacks, Chu decided not to press her luck with the furry knickknacks and moved on to working in a convenience store.

The working hours there, however, prevented her from taking care of her son, and she couldn't afford a babysitter, she said.

Chu now receives hand-outs from the foundation, which she has supplemented by pawning her possessions.

Chi said the foundation was pressuring the legislature to pass legislation that would give more mothers like Chu job support and counseling.

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