Women’s groups yesterday rejected the Ministry of the Interior’s anti-stalking draft act, saying it was treating the issue as equivalent to sexual harassment and failing to address the need for immediate preventative action.
The abduction and murder of a Chang Jung Christian University student last month has raised concerns about blind spots in public safety, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Sandy Yeh (葉毓蘭) told a news conference at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei.
While public attention is focused on the issue, the government should take the opportunity to pass an anti-stalking bill to rectify the inadequacies in the Domestic Violence Prevention Act (家庭暴力防治法) and Sexual Harassment Prevention Act (性騷擾防治法), she said.
Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times
There are two missing pieces in the nation’s legal protections for women and children: anti-stalking and anti-pornography legislation, Taiwan Coalition Against Violence director-general Peggy Wang (王珮玲) said.
Women’s groups have been calling for action while watching the rest of the world pass related laws, but the government has still not done anything, she said.
After early this year vowing to propose an anti-stalking bill within six months, Minister of the Interior Hsu Kuo-yung (徐國勇) last month released a draft act that shocked and dismayed women’s rights advocates, Wang said.
As the bill considers stalking to be sexual harassment, it includes no provisions for immediate intervention, she said.
There are three core features to anti-stalking legislation around the world, Wang said.
They emphasize advance intervention over retroactive punishment, she said, adding that they also allow for immediate intervention and contain thorough protective order statutes.
The ministry’s version deviates too far from this standard, Wang said, urging the National Police Agency to avoid succumbing to sectionalism and consider a bill that has already been drafted by women’s rights groups.
Harassers not only physically follow their victims, but also virtually stalk them through social media, said Wang Chiu-lan (王秋嵐), director of the Modern Women’s Foundation’s Department of Research and Development.
In the absence of an anti-stalking law, every victim would have to file a sexual harassment complaint with the police, Wang Chiu-lan said.
Such cases take a long time to investigate, potentially forcing the victim to endure harassment until the police can intervene, she said.
What victims need is early intervention, not a response after it is already too late, she added.
Last month’s incident shows that stalking behavior, when not immediately addressed, often evolves into violence, KMT Legislator Cheng Li-wun (鄭麗文) said.
Intervening only after tragedy strikes is the wrong way to think about the issue, she said, adding that the main reason for drafting an anti-stalking law is to provide law enforcement with the legal basis to intervene early and effectively.
Stalking is just the beginning of a sequence of events that could end in violence, KMT Legislator Wu I-ding (吳怡玎) said.
More than 8,000 stalking cases are reported every year, she said, adding that if law enforcement had the tools to intervene early, it would reduce the number of domestic violence and sexual harassment incidents, and lighten police officers’ case loads.
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