Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Wan Mei-ling (萬美玲) is calling for larger fines for sexual harassment, saying that current fines have failed to act as a deterrent amid a growing number of cases.
Over the past 11 years, the number of reported cases of sexual harassment has grown nearly fivefold, but offenders have only been fined about NT$20,000 on average per offense, demonstrating that fines have failed to deter such behavior, Wan said on Friday.
Laws should be amended to increase the fines from the current range of NT$10,000 to NT$100,000 per offense to NT$30,000 to NT$300,000, she said.
Photo: Chen Chih-chu, Taipei Times
Citing data from the Ministry of Health and Welfare, Wan said that the number of reported cases of sexual harassment grew from 154 in 2007 to 546 in 2018.
Of the 546 cases in 2018, 287 occurred in the workplace, where offenders abused their authority or took advantage of the work environment to harass colleagues, Wan said, adding that offenders in those cases were fined an average of only NT$20,350.
Wan and other advocates of increasing fines have submitted draft amendments to Chapter 5 of the Sexual Harassment Prevention Act (性騷擾防治法), which stipulates the penalties for offenses.
One amendment calls for a 50 percent increase in jail time for those who harass people in the workplace or take advantage of another person’s failure to resist advances to harass them.
In most sexual harassment cases, the victim and offender know each other from a workplace, training environment, educational setting or encounter in which one of them is seeking employment, Wan said.
Due to the power imbalance between the two parties, the victim is often unwilling to come forward about harassment, she said.
One particular example is in the military, where most sexual harassment cases go unreported, Wang said, adding that the Control Yuan has issued corrections to the Ministry of National Defense over the issue.
People in positions of authority in the workplace, human resources and educational environments who are aware of sexual harassment and do not take corrective action should also face increased fines of NT$20,000 to NT$200,000, she said.
Media companies that publish the names, work titles or other personal information of victims in sexual harassment cases should be fined NT$60,000 to NT$300,000, she added.
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