Tue, Feb 21, 2012 - Page 3 News List

MND faces accusations of gender discrimination

‘UNCONSTITUTIONAL’:The MND bars women who had oophorectomies or people who are colorblind from applying to military schools, rights groups said

By Chris Wang  /  Staff Reporter

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator-at-Large Wu Yi-chen, right, tells a press conference at the legislature yesterday that gender discrimination still exists in the Ministry of National Defense’s recruitment system.

Photo: CNA

Lawmakers and rights groups yesterday said the Ministry of National Defense had devised unconstitutional recruiting regulations that discriminate against women and the handicapped for military academic institutions.

Women who have had an oophorectomy (surgical removal of an ovary) and people who are colorblind are barred from applying to military schools, while some military schools are male only, lawmakers told a press conference.

“We call on the ministry to immediately remove the unconstitutional and discriminating requirements, as well as change its outdated attitude to readjust to modern warfare,” Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wu Yi-chen (吳宜臻) said.

According to ministry regulations, women who had oophorectomies or hysterectomies or who suffer from endometriosis and people who are colorblind or have difficulty differentiating colors are not allowed to apply to military institutions or serve as volunteers, while Chung Cheng Armed Forces Preparatory School only accepts male applicants between the ages of 14 and 18, Wu said.

The unfair requirements not only violate the Constitution, which protects all nationals from gender discrimination, but is also ironic given that Taiwan has relentlessly pushed for gender equality, she said.

The regulations infringe on women’s right to work and right to education, said Lee Chao-huan (李兆環), a lawyer from the Taipei Association for the Promotion of Women’s Rights.

The ministry had agreed to accept applicants who have had a hysterectomy after a review of recruiting requirements last year, Yang Jung-mu (楊榮木), an official representing the ministry’s Medical Affairs Bureau, said at the press conference.

“I have no idea why the clause still appears on the recruitment brochures this year,” he said, adding that women who had an oophorectomy are still barred from applying because of health concerns related to menopause and osteoporosis.

Yang said the ministry would conduct a complete review of application requirements for all military schools.

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