Monday, April 11, 2011

Women and Children, and Human Rights in Taiwan

Taiwan's apparently doing really well on human rights issues (not surprising to me) - among the best in Asia, in fact.

I'd say that the amount of time Taiwanese office staff are expected to stay at work is a human rights violation (OK, I'm using hyperbole, but come on), but otherwise...great.


As usual, women and children are the ones still suffering. Domestic abuse (including child abuse), rape and spousal rape, including discrimination against women, are all still significant problems in Taiwan. This I also believe: random acts of violence against women are not common - women can walk outside, alone and safely, at literally any time of day or night and not have to fear being attacked. I am sure it does happen, but it's so rare that I feel quite safe in Taipei, even in the darkest hours of the early morning.

It's violence against women by people they know and are possibly married to that remains a problem - for several reasons. It's still a social anathema to report spousal rape, there are still people who believe - even if they wouldn't admit it openly - that spousal abuse is acceptable/explainable (ie "she deserved it, if she kept him happier..."), that rape within marriage is not really rape, and that it's OK to hit your child. In many cases, saving the face and protecting the family status of the relative is considered more important than getting help for the wife or child, and so cases go unreported. Many foreign brides have nowhere to turn when they suffer abuse, and that goes unreported too.

And, as usual, despite a generally clean human rights record (human trafficking is still an issue, but at nowhere near the levels of other Asian countries), those still suffering are women and children. We can clean up most of the problems in a place, and yet there will still be people who think it's OK to treat those two groups as subhuman.

One is half the population, adult females who are still grouped in with people who are not yet adults - in many ways, around the world, women are treated more or less as children, workhorses or both - and the other is most defenseless segment of the population.

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