The Modern Women’s Foundation (MWF) yesterday panned negative media reports on a project hosted by the organization and the Ministry of the Interior (MOI) to train domestic violence victims to climb Yushan (玉山), the highest mountain in the country, saying that the reports were “irresponsible.”
The foundation and the ministry initiated an empowerment project in May for adult female domestic abuse victims, and part of the project is to have 20 women climb Yushan.
While the foundation and the ministry hope to increase the self-esteem of victims through the project, the Chinese-language Apple Daily and several TV news channels reported negatively on the project, accusing it of making “inappropriate use” of the budget, which is NT$4.5 million (US$155,200).
Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation executive director Kang Shu-hua (康淑華) was quoted by the Apple Daily as saying that “spending so much money to have abused women climb Yushan while filming a documentary about them is a little awkward” and the money should be spent in more effective ways.
MWF executive director Yao Shu-wen (姚淑文) said in a telephone interview with the Taipei Times that she was upset by the reports, because they have caused harm to both the MWF and the women taking part in it.
“This is actually a one-year project with many phases, including careful evaluation and assessment before and after, and provides training to those who are taking part in the project,” Yao said. “This is a cautiously planned empowerment project, not some random mountain-climbing camp.”
She said all those taking part in the climb volunteered and have had their physical and psychological condition carefully evaluated by professionals to ensure they are capable of taking up the challenge.
In the second phase, the participants undergo physical training, including jogging, hiking, rock climbing and trekking with 15kg backpacks, Yao said.
“After climbing Yushan, they will again have their physical and psychological condition assessed and the entire process will be filmed and made into a documentary,” she said, adding that the documentary would be shown on a tour across the country.
Yao said the project was aimed at rebuilding the self-esteem of abused victims.
“We want them to know that they can accomplish a lot if they really try, since most women are discouraged from adventures such as climbing the highest mountain in the country,” Yao said.
Speaking to the Taipei Times by telephone, Kang said she did not mean to question the WMF and the project, “but the MOI and the project host should explain the connection between empowerment for abused women and climbing the mountain.”
However, Garden of Hope Foundation executive director Chi Hui-jung (紀惠容) said that similar adventure projects have proven to be effective in building up confidence for young adults.
“I don’t know if it would work the same for abused women, since I don’t have enough information to judge,” she said.