Legal Progress for Rape Victims in Taiwan

Women in Taiwan embraced a legal victory for victims of rape on Tuesday. Regardless of whether or not rape victims press charges themselves against their attackers, prosecutors can now file suit against the rape perpetrators. This law protects women from describing the painful and exacting details of the rape to an open court.

Records show that Taiwan has approximately 1,700 reported rapes a year. However, because of the fear of repeated violence and social stigma, most rape victims never notify the police. This leads experts to believe that as many as 10 times more rapes are occuring than are reported.

In the past, rapists have not been convicted of their crimes because Taiwanese law would not permit authorities to prosecute the rapists unless the rape victims pressed charges as well. According to lawmaker Fan Hsiun-lu, “many women were still compelled to live with sexual assaults because the law encouraged them to settle the cases in private or simply keep quiet under the attackers’ threats of more violence.”

Under the new law, a rapist can face up to five years in jail and up to three years of sexual therapy. While this law is a huge progressive step for the women in Taiwan, there are still problems with this law and other laws involved in sexual assault issues. While the new law takes effect immediately in the more violent rape cases, there will be a delay of two years before the law can be applied to less violent rapes. Also, women who claim rape by their spouses must still press charges themselves before prosecutors can file suit.


AP - March 31, 1999

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