An increase in reported cases of domestic violence among non-cohabiting unmarried couples shows how society has changed and why such violence should be treated as a crime, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Wu Yi-chen (吳宜臻) told a news conference yesterday.
“As the natures of people’s relationships and family structures become more diverse within a changing society, so do the types of domestic violence between partners. However, the Domestic Violence Prevention Act (家庭暴力防治法) has not kept up with these changes,” Wu said.
Violence between unmarried partners who do not live together has the dubious distinction of not being covered by the act, and a survey conducted by the Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation (TWRF) between August and October last year found that 23.8 percent of domestic violence cases fell into that category, with most of the victims being women aged between 18 and 25 years old, she said.
“The current legislation prevents these victims from applying for restraining orders. They can only file criminal lawsuits after being physically assaulted or threatened,” Wu added.
The lawmaker said she would propose to amend the act in the next legislative session, and called on the public to support such a move.
The government should provide all victims of domestic abuse with legal protection, said Wang Yueh-hao (王玥好), deputy executive officer of the Garden of Hope Foundation, citing a case in which a victim who was stalked and harassed by a former partner was not able to obtain a restraining order until providing the court with evidence that the two had lived together on weekends before they separated.
TWRF chief executive officer Kang Shu-hua (康淑華) called for Taiwan to follow the examples set by some Western countries which offer protection to victims of violence in cases where the couple are unmarried and do not live together.
“The victims of more than 25 percent of the reported cases of domestic violence in Taiwan do not live with their current or former partners, which means that more than one-quarter of all victims of such abuse are not protected by law,” Kang said.