Immigration officials will now be required to report cases of domestic violence after the Legislative Yuan yesterday amended the Domestic Violence Prevention Act (家庭暴力防治法), a step lawmakers hope will improve the protection of foreign spouses.
Under the previous regulation, only medical personnel, social workers, educators and police were compelled to report cases of suspected domestic violence.
The amended law stipulates that immigration officials must inform the authorities within 24 hours after discovering potential cases, just as social workers are now required to do.
The amendment, proposed by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Shyu Jong-shyoung (徐中雄), was necessary to protect foreign spouses, and immigration officials are the civil servants who have the most contact with them, Shyu said.l
“If we cannot establish a [domestic violence] report mechanism for foreign spouses, we will not be able to improve social order and address the nation’s problem of domestic violence,” Shyu said after the bill cleared the legislature.
Statistics included in the bill showed that 138,676 foreign spouses and 269,871 Chinese spouses lived in Taiwan as of the end of August. Over the past five years, 21,309 foreign and Chinese spouses have been victims of domestic violence, the statistics showed.
Statistics from the Ministry of the Interior showed that 6,539 cases of domestic violence were reported in January, an increase of 8.9 percent from the same period last year, when 6,006 cases were reported.
Nearly 60 percent of the cases involved violence between spouses, former spouses or cohabitants. More than 17 percent concerned abuse of children or teenagers, while 3 percent involved assaults on the elderly.
“Because of such factors as cultural and language barriers, foreign and Chinese spouses are disadvantaged compared with Taiwanese nationals. It is therefore necessary to oblige personnel in charge of immigration affairs to act because they are in constant contact with foreign spouses,” Vice Minister of the Interior Chien Tai-lang (簡太郎) said during the legislature’s preliminary review of the bill.
Concerned that the current economic downturn could lead to a spike in domestic violence, the legislature atttached a rider to the passage of the amendment yesterday requiring the Ministry of the Interior to propose plans within a week to increase the budget earmarked for the prevention of domestic violence.
The proposal should be included in the central government’s special budget request to boost investment in public works, the legislature said.