Women’s Day: Lawmakers urge ministry to submit anti-stalking bill

By Sean Lin  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Mar 09, 2018 - Page 3

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislators yesterday called on the Ministry of the Interior to swiftly propose its version of a bill to protect women against stalking and harassment, with the Legislative Yuan’s Internal Administration Committee convener Yang Chen-wu (楊鎮浯) vowing to schedule a review of draft bills on the issue before Mother’s Day in May.

In many cases where women have fallen victim to stalking and harassment, the harassers were only given a slap on the wrist under the Social Order Maintenance Act (社會秩序維護法), which is insufficient to deter such actions, KMT Legislator Lin Wei-chou (林為洲) told a news conference at the Legislative Yuan.

The Domestic Violence Prevention Act (家庭暴力防治法), another law that is often cited when dealing with violence against women, addresses abuses against family members or partners living together, but is unable to protect women against being stalked, Lin said.

A number of draft bills proposed by legislators to deter stalking and harassment have passed the first reading and proceeded to the committee for review, pending the ministry’s draft bill, when a comprehensive review can be conducted, he said.

Surveys conducted by civic groups show that one out of every eight women has been harassed, with one respondent saying that she had been harassed for 35 years, KMT Legislator Alicia Wang (王育敏) said.

Being harassed is often a traumatizing experience, but existing regulations have come up short in protecting women from harassment, Wang said, as she called on the ministry to speed up its work on the draft bill and deliver it to the legislature before the end of the current session.

Hopefully, through swift passage of the bill, Taiwan would become an exemplary Asian nation in terms of protecting women against stalking and harassment, she said.

The law would protect not only women, but anyone who has been stalked, KMT Legislator John Wu (吳志揚) said.

He had proposed a bill on the issue in 2016, which stated that people who stalk or harass others should be fined NT$30,000, and those who inflict harm on others due to stalking or harassment should be given a maximum prison term of two years, Wu said.

As stalking and harassment are often the precursor of more grievous harm, women who find themselves in these situations are in need of the most protection they can get, he said, but added that existing laws are unable to offer them any protection.

If the ministry fails to propose its version of the draft bill before Mother’s Day, he would bypass the ministry to schedule a meeting to review draft bills that have already passed the first reading, Yang said.

Hopefully, the bill can be passed into law before the end of this legislative session, he said.