Fri, Aug 24, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Control Yuan could probe sex assault conviction rate

By Chung Li-hua  /  Staff reporter

Control Yuan members Wang Yu-ling (王幼玲) and Lin Ya-feng (林雅鋒) on Wednesday said they would apply to launch an investigation into judge training programs for sexual assault cases, as the conviction rate in such cases is low and punishments tend to be light.

According to sexual assault and harassment case statistics from 2013 to 2016, of the defendants who were in a more powerful position than the plaintiff, only 38 were convicted — 1.58 percent of all such lawsuits during the period, Wang and Lin said in a statement, adding that most suspects were sentenced to only six to 12 months in prison.

When there is a power imbalance, victims are less likely to seek help for fear of retaliation and it is more difficult to collect evidence, they said.

Judges handling such cases need to be more sensitive to the victims’ vulnerable position, they said.

To ensure that judges mete out proportionate punishments and prevent discrepancies in rulings, the Judges Academy offers training programs on how to handle such cases, the statement said, adding that relevant judges are required to complete 12 hours of the classes every year.

Despite the training requirement and the establishment of courts specializing in sexual assault, rulings in such cases tend to differ drastically from the expectations of social workers who help victims, Wang said, adding that she hopes to discover whether the program sufficiently teaches judges to understand the ways in which power imbalances make victims more vulnerable.

The investigation is to examine the teaching materials and faculty members of the training program, whether the Judicial Yuan has reviewed its effectiveness, whether the gender equality education programs for judges are effective and whether rulings in the special court on sexual assault are fair, the statement said.

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