Wed, Jun 20, 2007 - Page 2 News List

Noise from high heels, sex not covered by law

HELPLESS While police can legally put a stop to noises transmitted by karaoke machines, they are not authorized to deal with noisy shoes or lovemaking

By Hsu Kuo-chen and Su Chin-feng  /  STAFF REPORTERS

A university professor and a woman living in Taichung have found out that dealing with noisy neighbors isn't easy and calling in the cops won't solve the problem either.

The professor recently bought an apartment close to the university where he teaches and was very happy with his choice until a couple of weeks ago, when a new neighbor moved in.

clicking sound

From day one, the professor could hear a clicking sound coming from the apartment above. He didn't think much of it in the beginning, but the noise continued day after day -- from early morning to late evening -- and he could no longer get the sleep he needed.

When he complained to the janitor, he was told that maybe the noise came from the woman's preference for wearing high heels around the house.

The professor then complained to the building's management committee and the police, but was told they couldn't do anything because she was in the privacy of her own home.

In another case, a single woman was greatly disturbed by the loud groans and bed banging against the wall separating her apartment from the one occupied by a pair of university students.

When she complained to borough chief and the police about the day-and-night disturbance, she received the same answer as the professor: There's not much we can do about it.

Taichung City Environmental Protection Bureau officials said that under the Noise Control Act (噪音管制法), law enforcement officials can only legally put a stop to noises transmitted through mechanical equipment, such as karaoke machines.

In short, bureau officials were helpless when it came to high heels and loud lovemaking.

compromise

The officials added that the only solution was to ask the building's management committee to step in and work out a compromise.

Meanwhile, police said they could only take action against people disturbing the peace at night based on the Social Order Maintenance Act (社會秩序維護法), but when it came to lovemaking and high heels, they also had to rely on verbal persuasion.

Tien Hui-chi (田輝勣) director of the Ear, Nose and Throat Department at Linhsin Hospital in Taichung said that in the psychology of hearing, noise is not a matter of decibels, but rather of contrast.

disturbance

An unexpected sound in an otherwise quiet environment -- and not knowing whether it will persist -- causes the greatest disturbance, he said.

The human brain can gradually adapt to constant noises, but the sound created by clicking high heels is irregular, he said. It is also impossible to determine whether the sound will continue, and this attracts a lot of brain attention, he added.

In the case of the woman who is fond of wearing high heels around the house, Tien suggested asking the woman to put carpet on her flooring or take her shoes off, adding that the professor could also consider wearing ear plugs to sleep.

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