The number of sexual harassment complaints has been increasing over the past five years, with nearly 2.6 times more reports last year than in 2017 and 75 percent of them found to be true, Ministry of Health and Welfare statistics showed.
The data revealed that people are more willing to fight for their rights when encountering sexual harassment, the ministry said.
Department of Protective Services Director-General Chang Hsiu-yuan (張秀鴛) said that physical harassment comprised 51 percent of all sexual harassment cases from 2017 to last year, followed by the unsolicited sending of erotic pictures, peeping or taking photographs secretly at 26 percent, and verbal harassment at 14 percent.
Sixty-three percent of the victims were under the age of 30, of whom 18 percent were underage and 45 percent were aged 18 to 30, while 17 percent of the victims were over the age of 40, she said, adding that 96 percent were women.
Apart from at the workplace, sexual harassment happened most often in public places at 38 percent, while 16 percent of cases happened on public transportation and about 10 percent happened in private residences, she said, adding that about 20 percent involved the use of digital devices.
Chiu Hhui-chen (邱惠振), a counselor at the Flourish Psychological Counseling Clinic, said that sexual harassment “seems intangible but causes physical and psychological trauma.”
Female victims show symptoms including loss of weight, anxiety and panic attacks, which might affect their daily life, by distracting them from their studies or work, or alienating them from others, he said.
Attorney Kuo I-ching (郭怡青) said that in addition to objective evidence, the subjective feelings of victims is taken into consideration when deciding whether the reported conduct constitutes sexual harassment.
If a complaint is found to be true, offenders face a fine of NT$10,000 to NT$100,000, she said.
When encountering sexual harassment, people can call the 113 protection hotline or file a complaint at a local police station or local government office, Chang said.
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