The Ministry of Health and Welfare on Friday introduced a handbook for long-term care facility workers and established a set of administrative measures to prevent sexual attacks at such facilities.
At least half of mentally disabled patients staying at long-term care facilities who have been raped were younger than 16, the ministry said.
An investigation found that as many as 36 percent of male workers at some care facilities had sexually assaulted disabled male or female patients, it said.
The issue came to the attention of authorities last year, when a nurse at a special needs center in Hualien County said that four patients had been raped.
The nurse, surnamed Wu (吳), said that an administrative staff member, surnamed Chang (張), had repeatedly raped four disabled patients at the center “over a long period of time.”
Chang was later indicted on sexual assault and other charges.
The ministry said that it sent an anonymous survey late last year to care facilities nationwide to gain a better understanding of the situation.
Aside from the assault of patients by workers, respondents also said that rape by coworkers was prevalent at many facilities.
Victims were both men and women, but all of the offenders were male, the ministry said.
Most victims of rape by caretakers were female patients, while most victims of rape by coworkers were male, it said.
There are about 18,000 disabled patients at long-term care facilities nationwide, it said.
With the feedback it received through the survey, the ministry had asked the First Social Welfare Foundation to draft a plan to address sexual assault at the facilities.
The ministry said that it has implemented a class-three risk management mechanism to deal with the issue, adding that it hopes the handbook would help frontline workers better control the situation.
The investigation into sexual assault at the care facilities was intended only as a reference to draft the handbook and does not constitute academic research into the issue, Social and Family Affairs Administration Director Chien Hui-chuan (簡惠娟) said.
However, it was significant, as it is the first time the issue has been investigated and measures taken in response, she said.
In 2011, there was a major case involving an estimated 164 incidents of sexual assault and harassment of 92 victims at National University of Tainan’s Affiliated School for Students with Hearing Impairments, Chien said.
The victims and offenders were all students at the school, and the youngest victim was in second grade, Chien said.
Since 2011, there have been more than 1,000 reports of rape involving people with impairments, she said, adding that such an increase in reporting shows that people are now taking the rights and safety of disabled people seriously.
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