Section 6. Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons
Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape, including spousal rape, and domestic violence and provides protection for rape survivors. Rape trials are not open to the public unless the victim consents. Amendments to the Sexual Assault Crime Prevention Act stipulate experts will assist in questioning and appear in court as witnesses when rape victims are minors or mentally disabled, and they authorize the use of one-way mirrors, video conferencing, or other practices to protect victims during questioning and at trial. The law permits a charge of rape even if the victim chooses not to press charges and allows prosecutors to investigate complaints of domestic violence even if the victim has not filed a formal complaint.
The law establishes the punishment for rape as a minimum of five years’ imprisonment, and courts usually sentenced individuals convicted of rape to five to 10 years in prison. Courts typically sentenced individuals convicted in domestic violence cases to less than six months in prison.
In one prominent case, a man surnamed Wu was sentenced to 20 years in jail in May for sexually assaulting 10 minors and 12 women. Wu was given an additional jail sentence of 14 years after the prosecutors found there were another 17 victims.
Many victims did not report the crime for fear of social stigmatization, and various nongovernmental organizations (NGO) and academic studies estimated the total number of sexual assaults was seven to 10 times higher than the number reported to police. Some abused women chose not to report incidents to police due to social pressure not to disgrace their families.
The law requires all cities and counties to establish violence prevention and control centers to address domestic and sexual violence, child abuse, and elder abuse.
Sexual Harassment: The law prohibits sexual harassment (see section 7.d.). In most cases perpetrators were required to attend classes on gender equality and counseling sessions, and when the victims agreed, to apologize to the victims.
Incidents of sexual harassment were reportedly on the rise in public spaces, schools, the legislature, and in the government.
Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion or involuntary sterilization.
Discrimination: The law provides the same legal status and rights for women and men. Women experienced some discrimination in employment (see section 7.d.).
Birth Registration: Citizenship is derived from that of either parent. Births must be registered within 60 days; failure to do so results in the denial of national health care and education benefits. Registration is not denied on a discriminatory basis.
Child Abuse: The law stipulates persons learning of cases of child abuse or neglect must notify police or welfare authorities. An official 24-hour hotline accepted complaints of child abuse and offered counseling. Courts are required to appoint guardians for children of parents deemed unfit. In light of increasing numbers of child abuse cases in childcare centers, May 2018 amendments to the Early Childhood Education and Care Act imposed tougher punishments. Childcare center owners and teachers who physically abuse or sexually harass children may be fined between NT$60,000 and NT$500,000 ($1,950 and $16,300), and the names of perpetrators and their institutions will be made public. Owners who fail to verify the qualifications of teachers and other employees face a maximum fine of NT$250,000 ($8,140).
Children’s rights advocates called on medical professionals to pay attention to rising numbers of infants and young children sent to hospitals with unusual injuries and to take the initiative to report suspected abuse to law enforcement while treating these children. Advocates also called attention to growing numbers of bullying, violence, and sexual assault cases at correctional institutions, while pointing out these facilities were usually understaffed, and their personnel were inadequately trained to counsel and manage teenage inmates.
Central and local authorities coordinated with private organizations to identify and assist high-risk children and families and to increase public awareness of child abuse and domestic violence.
In May the Legislative Yuan amended Article 286 of the Criminal Code, raising the maximum age of children protected by the law from 16 to 18, and imposing tougher sanctions on abusers who cause the death of children, who could now face life sentences.
In January a girl aged one-and-a-half was beaten and starved to death by her aunt, surnamed Hsueh, and a man surnamed Lee. In August the court ruled Hsueh and Lee guilty of child homicide, sentencing both to life imprisonment and depriving them of civil rights for life.
Early and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum age of marriage is 18 years for men and 16 for girls.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law prohibits the commercial sexual exploitation of children and child pornography. November 2017 amendments to the Child and Youth Sexual Exploitation Prevention Act (CYSEPA) stipulate a perpetrator who films an underage person engaging in sexual intercourse or obscene acts or produces pictures, photographs, films, videotapes, compact discs, electronic signals, or other objects that show an underage person engaging in sexual intercourse or obscene acts, shall be subject to imprisonment for between one and seven years, and could face a maximum fine of NT$1.0 million ($32,600).
The minimum age for consensual sexual relations is 16 years. Persons who engage in sex with children younger than 14 face sentences of three to 10 years in prison. Those who engage in sex with minors between 14 and 16 receive a mandatory prison sentence of three to seven years. Solicitors of sex with minors older than 16 but younger than 18 face a maximum of one year in prison or hard labor or a maximum fine of NT$3 million ($97,700).
While authorities generally enforced the law domestically, elements of the law that treat possession of child pornography as a misdemeanor rather than a felony hampered enforcement in some cases. Authorities also did not investigate or prosecute any cases of child sexual exploitation committed by citizens while traveling abroad, although the law permits this.
In February 2018 police arrested two men in connection with an international child pornography distribution ring. Police uncovered mobile hard drives that contained an estimated 2,500 pornographic videos of minors, including infants. The suspects were charged with violating the CYSEPA and sentenced respectively to two months in jail, which can be commuted to a fine of NT$60,000 ($1,960), plus a two-year probation.
NGOs raised concerns about online sexual exploitation of children and reported sex offenders increasingly used cell phones, web cameras, live streaming, apps, and other new technologies to deceive and coerce underage girls and boys into sexual activity.
There were reports of minors in prostitution.
International Child Abductions: Due to its unique political status, Taiwan is not eligible to become a party to the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. See the Department of State’s Annual Report on International Parental Child Abduction at https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/International-Parental-Child-Abduction/for-providers/legal-reports-and-data/reported-cases.html.
The Jewish community was very small, estimated at 1,000 individuals who meet regularly, and consisted predominately of foreign residents. There were no reports of anti-Semitic acts.
See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at https://www.state.gov/trafficking-in-persons-report.
The law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities and stipulates authorities must provide certain services and programs to persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities have the right to vote and participate in civic affairs. Taiwan has incorporated the terms of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities into its laws.
Authorities enacted and made efforts to implement laws and programs to provide access to buildings, information, and communications. NGOs contended the lack of barrier-free spaces and accessible transportation systems continued to limit civic engagement by persons with disabilities, particularly outside Taipei. In January the government released its annual assessment report on accessibility in public buildings and areas, listing Taipei City, New Taipei City, Kaohsiung City, and Nantou County as excellent. Chiayi County and Penghu County, the only two local governments that did not pass the assessment, were put on notice to make further improvements. The annual assessment results serve as a reference for the central government to allocate funding for the coming fiscal year.
Most children with disabilities attended mainstream schools, but separate primary, secondary, and vocational schools were also available for students with disabilities. NGOs asserted services for students with disabilities remained largely inadequate.
From mid-2018 until August, three cases were reported in Taipei City of residents opposing proposals to establish institutions for people with intellectual disabilities or mental illnesses in their neighborhoods, despite efforts by the Taipei Department of Social Welfare and relevant advocacy groups to hold several discussion sessions with neighbors. NGOs urged that, should the residents continue to block the projects, the authorities fine the residents in accordance with the penal provisions stipulated in the People with Disabilities Rights Protection Act.
As of June spouses born in Southeast Asian countries and the PRC accounted for more than 1 percent of the total population. Overseas spouses were reportedly targets of social discrimination outside and, at times, inside the home.
The Nationality Act allows non-PRC-born foreign spouses of Taiwan passport holders to apply for Taiwan residency after three years, while PRC-born spouses must wait six years. Unlike non-PRC spouses, however, PRC-born spouses may work in Taiwan immediately on arrival. The status and rights of PRC-born spouses are governed by the Act Governing Relations Between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area.
Starting in August, seven Southeast Asian languages–Vietnamese, Indonesian, Thai, Burmese, Khmer, Malay, and Tagalog–were incorporated into the language curriculum in some elementary schools, reflecting the growing number of children of partial Southeast Asian descent. As of June more than 150,000 second-generation students were enrolled in elementary, junior high, and senior high schools.
Authorities officially recognize 16 indigenous tribes, accounting for approximately 2.3 percent of the population. The law provides indigenous people equal civil and political rights and stipulates authorities should provide resources to help indigenous groups develop a system of self-governance, formulate policies to protect their basic rights, and promote the preservation and development of their languages and cultures.
The law designates the languages of Taiwan’s 16 indigenous tribes as national languages and entitles indigenous peoples to use their languages in official settings. As part of a pilot program, authorities in 2018 established a number of schools designed exclusively for indigenous children to ensure they grow up in their native cultural, including linguistic, environment.
In March 2018 the Legal Aid Foundation funded by the Judicial Yuan launched Taiwan’s first indigenous legal service center in Hualian to provide legal assistance to indigenous persons.
Although the law allows for the delineation of government-owned traditional indigenous territories, indigenous rights advocates argued a large amount of indigenous land was seized and privatized decades ago, depriving indigenous communities of the right to participate in the development of these traditional territories.
Existing law stipulates authorities and the private sector should consult with indigenous people and obtain their consent to or participation in, as well as share with them the benefits of, land development, resource utilization, ecology conservation, and academic research in indigenous areas. There are, however, no regulations in place for obtaining this consent with respect to private land.
Indigenous people participated in decisions affecting their land through the political process. The law sets aside six of the 113 seats in the legislature for indigenous tribal representatives elected by indigenous voters. In addition to the six legislators, the Legislative Yuan as of August had one indigenous legislator elected on a proportional representation party list.
In July the Taipei High Administrative Court ruled in favor of the indigenous residents who protested the 2017 20-year renewal of permits for Asia Cement Corporation’s mining operations near a Truku community in Hualien County. The Bureau of Mines renewed the permit without the consent of the Truku community. The court agreed with the plaintiffs the Bureau of Mines renewal of the permits violated Article 21 of the Indigenous Peoples’ Basic Law, which requires governments or private parties to consult with and obtain consent from indigenous peoples in such cases.
The law stipulates employers cannot discriminate against job seekers based on sexual orientation and prohibits schools from discriminating against students based on their gender expression, gender identity, or sexual orientation.
In June 2018 the Control Yuan reprimanded the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the MOI for ignoring intersex persons and failing to protect their right to health. The Control Yuan pointed out parents may be pressured to allow intersex infants to undergo gender assignment surgery because of insufficient medical guidelines and pressure on parents to register their child’s gender at birth. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) persons faced discrimination in accessing sensitive health services, and the Control Yuan found the lack of accessible care a violation of the principle of equality.
Activists for LGBTI rights said due to victims’ reluctance to lodge formal complaints, discrimination against LGBTI persons was more widespread than suggested by the number of court cases. Reported instances of violence against LGBTI individuals were rare, and the police response was adequate.
In August the Taipei District Court ruled in favor of an LGBTI rights advocate surnamed Hu, who was denied a funeral subsidy in 2017 after the death of his same-sex partner Ho. The court deemed Hu and his partner as de facto legally married and therefore entitled to the spousal funeral subsidy.
The law prohibits potential employers from requesting health examination reports from job candidates to prove they do not have HIV or other communicable diseases. There was reported discrimination, including employment discrimination, against persons with HIV/AIDS (see section 7.d.).