Groups urge help for sexual assault victims

INTEGRATED APPROACH::In order to help such victims, legislators recommended that the Ministry of Education establish an integrated platform to handle cases

By Loa Iok-sin  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Nov 08, 2012 - Page 3

Lawmakers and the Humanistic Education Foundation (HEF) yesterday called on the government to play a more active role in helping the victims of sexual assaults that occurred at a special education school in southern Taiwan in 2010.

While the sexual assaults of several students by their teachers two years ago shocked the country, the foundation said the school’s administration and the Ministry of Education lack sincerity in helping the victims obtain government compensation.

“It’s been a frustrating process to help five student victims from the school apply for national compensation,” HEF’s southern Taiwan office director Chang Ping (張萍) told a news conference at the Legislative Yuan. “So far, only three of the five students have reached an agreement with the school to be granted compensation of NT$1.1 million [US$37,800], NT$1.3 million and NT$1.5 million respectively.”

The two other students are still in the legal process of claiming compensation.

“It was quite shocking when we heard school officials say that while we may care about the students, they only care about the civil servants during negotiations — and that the school only agreed to negotiate with the parents on the condition that the parents would not seek compensation from the school,” Chang said.

Neither the name of the school nor the names of the students were disclosed to protect the victims.

Chang said that while five victims sought help from the foundation, an investigative report by the Control Yuan on the incident showed there were a total of 92 victims.

“The government should make it known to the public and to the victims how and where they can get help,” Chang said.

Democratic Progressive Party legislators Yu Mei-nu (尤美女) and Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) urged the government to assist victims in getting compensation from the offenders.

“Although three of the victims have been granted compensation, the compensation was paid with taxpayer money, not from the offenders’ pockets,” Yu said.

“The government should ask those who committed the crimes to pay for them on behalf of the victims, not taxpayers,” Yu added.

Tien added that the ministry should establish an integrated platform to handle such cases in the future so that victims do not have to bounce back and forth between police, judiciary and education institutions.

Ministry official Hsu Chen-hsing (許陣興), who attended the news conference, said the school should ask the offenders to pay for the compensation.

“Of course the ministry would monitor the process, and could penalize relevant parties if the school does not seek compensation from the offenders,” he said.