Worried that the plots of prime time TV dramas which feature domestic violence, such as slapping and other physical abuse of family members, may have a negative impact on viewers, a committee under the Ministry of the Interior has proposed adding a warning notice before such episodes are aired.
However, anti-domestic violence activists were less enthusiastic about the proposed policy and its actual impact.
“The idea was suggested by a participant in a routine committee meeting at the end of December, and as part of our routine practice, we forwarded the proposal to the relevant government institution, which is the National Communications Commission [NCC],” said Lee Mei-chen (李美珍), executive secretary of the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention Committee (DSPC). “The policy proposal is not set yet as we’re awaiting a reply from the commission. It will be further discussed in our next meeting at the end of March.”
In a letter delivered to the commission, the DSPC said that domestic violence featured in television dramas “already constitute criminal offenses” and may “mislead the viewers to perform such acts that are in violation of the law and sabotage relationships between family members.”
The committee suggested that the commission ask TV stations to add a warning before such episodes, or show domestic violence-prevention videos after such programs.
However, activists raised doubts about the proposal.
“Certainly the DSPC made the suggestion out of good intentions, but when you are campaigning for something, you must take into consideration the countereffects of the campaign strategy,” said Chi Hui-jung (紀惠容), executive director of the Garden of Hope Foundation. “I think both the screenwriters and the audience would not be too happy if a show is interrupted with such warnings, and it would be hard not to be upset about it.”
She suggested that instead of adding a warning to the end of such episodes, the DSPC could discuss removing such plots from dramas with screenwriters.
“I think it’s more important to deal with the production process rather than the end product,” Chi said.
Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation executive director Kang Shu-hua (康淑華) holds a similar view.
“Warnings may be effective, but it should be the last resort,” Kang said. “It would be more effective if we could put in place a strict TV show classification system like we’re doing with movies, so that dramas with inappropriate content cannot be aired during prime time from 6pm to 10pm.”