Tue, May 01, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Call for tougher anti-stalking law

LEGISLATIVE REVIEW:As lawmakers quizzed Ministry of the Interior officials over its draft bill, women’s rights advocates said faster action was needed to help victims

By Lin Chia-nan  /  Staff reporter

From left, Garden of Hope Foundation supervisor Tu Ying-chiu, Awakening Foundation director of development Lin Shiou-yi and Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation deputy executive Chang Kai-chian and deputy chief executive Jasmine Bai take part in a news conference at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei yesterday. Their signs urge the Executive Yuan to amend a proposed bill against pestering or stalking.

Photo: Huang Yao-cheng, Taipei Times

The Executive Yuan needs to refine its draft anti-stalking act to broaden the range of pestering behavior covered and shorten the specified time frame for police investigations into complaints, women’s rights groups said yesterday.

While they support the idea of the bill, they said its current version would not provide enough protection to people who are being harassed or stalked.

Lawmakers on the legislature’s Internal Administration and Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene committees yesterday questioned Ministry of the Interior officials over the draft approved by the Executive Yuan.

The draft defines “pestering behavior” as a person’s actions toward others, be it a specific individual or their families, spouses or those have close relations with them, out of “admiration, affection or resentment” cause the focus of the attention to feel disgusted or fearful.

The draft act lists seven types of pestering behavior: spying; stalking; repeatedly making telephone calls or sending messages to a person on a withheld number; persistently requesting dates; sending or exhibiting messages, images, sound, videos or other things to a person; menacing a person by showing things that could hurt their reputation; or using contact information to purchase unsolicited and unwanted items for a person.

If someone is being stalked by a stranger, they can hardly know and therefore prove the stalker’s motivation, Awakening Foundation director of development Lin Shiou-yi (林秀怡) told a news conference at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei.

Once a person files a complaint with police, the police are required to spend three months investigating the allegations, which is both time consuming and fails to provide a victim with timely protection, Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation deputy chief executive Jasmine Bai (白智芳) said.

Police should finish a preliminary investigation into a complaint within 72 hours, and if the allegations are confirmed, they should issue a 10-day protection order that forbids a harasser from pestering the complainant during that time, she said.

However, Deputy Minister of the Interior Chiu Chang-yueh (邱昌嶽) told lawmakers during yesterday’s committee session that victims would not need to verify their harasser’s motivation before contacting police, because the police would start probing a case as soon as they received a victim’s complaint.

Police would first give a warning to the alleged harasser, and if the harasser is found to be pestering the complainant again within two years, police would ask the court for a protection order for the victim, he said.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Alicia Wang (王育敏) urged the ministry to allow police to issue a 10-day protection order to curb alleged harassers.

However, Chiu said that the suggestion could face legal issues and so it would need further consideration.

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