Fri, Nov 21, 2008 - Page 2 News List

Spanish freelancer shunned by GIO

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The Government Information Office (GIO) said yesterday it would not invite a Spanish freelance journalist to visit Taiwan again after he was accused of sexual harassment by one of its female employees.

The GIO made the remarks after a story published by the Chinese-language Apple Daily yesterday quoted the staffer as saying that a Spanish freelance journalist, who was recently invited by the GIO on a paid trip to visit Taiwan for 10 days, allegedly harassed her.

The story quoted Huang as saying that the journalist allegedly touched her shoulder, hands, back and waist despite her protests.

The story also quoted the staffer as saying that she was very bothered by the freelancer’s allegedly suggestive remarks such as “I can’t wait to be alone with you on Orchid Island” and “I have bought essential oil and I will massage you when we get to Orchid Island.”

When asked for comments, GIO Minister Vanessa Shih (史亞平) said yesterday that she was very shocked to learn about the harassment accusation and the GIO’s sexual harassment committee had held a meeting immediately to deal with the staffer’s complaint.

Shih said the staffer, surnamed Huang, said that she felt uncomfortable with the remarks made by the freelancer when she was assigned to accompany him on the trip.

“We do not tolerate [sexual harassment],” Shih said, adding that the GIO had immediately notified Taiwan’s consulate office in Spain about the matter.

“We will not invite this freelancer to Taiwan again,” she said. “Sometimes it is impossible to see the dark side of a person during the invitation process, but we will urge our overseas consulates to pay extra attention [when planning invitations for foreign reporters.]”

Shih said the staffer’s superior had immediately relieved Huang of her assignment and had a male colleague take over after receiving her complaint, dismissing media speculation that the staffer’s superior had forced her to resign.

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