Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape, including spousal rape, and domestic violence. Many victims did not report the crime for fear of social stigmatization, and various NGO and academic studies estimated the total number of sexual assaults was seven to 10 times the number reported to police.
The law provides protection for rape survivors. Rape trials are not open to the public unless the victim consents. The law permits a charge of rape even if the victim chooses not to press charges.
In June the legislature approved a pension reform bill for public school teachers, which stipulates that retired teachers and staff must return pension payments received if convicted of sexual assault that occurred while they were employed as teachers.
Amendments to the Sexual Assault Crime Prevention Act went into effect stipulating that experts will assist in questioning and appear in court as witnesses when rape victims are minors or mentally disabled, and authorize the use of one-way mirrors, video conferencing, or other practices to protect victims during questioning and at trial.
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. Some abused women chose not to report incidents to police due to social pressure not to disgrace their families. The law allows prosecutors to investigate complaints of domestic violence even in cases where the victim has not filed a formal complaint.
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.
Coercion in Population Control: There were no reports of coerced abortion, involuntary sterilization, or other coercive population control methods. Estimates on maternal mortality and contraceptive prevalence are available at: www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/monitoring/maternal-mortality-2015/en/.
Discrimination: The law provides the same legal status and rights for women as for 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: 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. The law stipulates that 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.
Children’s rights advocates pointed out that juvenile correctional facilities were usually understaffed and their personnel were not adequately trained to counsel and manage teenage inmates. They also called attention to growing numbers of bullying, violence, and sexual assault cases at correctional institutions.
Early and Forced Marriage: The legal minimum age of marriage is 18 for men and 16 for women.
Sexual Exploitation of Children: The law prohibits the commercial sexual exploitation of children and child pornography, and authorities effectively enforced the law domestically; however, authorities did not investigate or prosecute any cases of child sexual exploitation committed by citizens while traveling abroad.
NGOs raised concerns about online sexual exploitation of children and reported that sex offenders were increasingly using cellphones, web cameras, live streaming, apps, and other new technologies to deceive and coerce young girls and boys into sexual activity.
The minimum age for consensual sexual relations is 16. Persons who engage in sex with children younger than age 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 up to one year in prison or hard labor or a maximum fine of NT$3.0 million ($98,300). 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 travel.state.gov/content/childabduction/en/legal/compliance.html.
The Jewish community was very small, estimated at 300 individuals who meet regularly, and consisted predominately of foreign residents. There were no reports of anti-Semitic acts.
Trafficking in Persons
See the Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report at www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/.
Persons with Disabilities
The law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical, sensory, intellectual, and mental disabilities.
Authorities enacted and made efforts to implement laws and programs to provide access to buildings, information, and communications. Taiwan has incorporated the terms of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities into its laws.
In April the Ministry of Labor issued an administrative rule to specify that persons with minor disabilities who had not applied for proof of disability from the government were nonetheless protected against employment discrimination. The rule imposes fines of between NT$300,000 ($9,830) and NT$1.5 million ($49,200) on employers who discriminate against this category of disabled workers or job seekers; 1.17 million persons in Taiwan have received proof of disability.
Persons with disabilities have the right to vote and participate in civic affairs. NGOs contended the lack of barrier-free spaces and accessible transportation systems continued to limit civic engagement by persons with disabilities, particularly outside Taipei.
The law stipulates that authorities must provide services and programs to persons with disabilities. Most children with disabilities attended mainstream schools, but separate primary, secondary, and vocational schools were also available for students with disabilities. NGOs asserted that services for students with disabilities remained largely inadequate. There were occasional reports of sexual assaults against disabled persons in educational and mental health facilities.
As of July spouses born in Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and the PRC accounted for approximately 1 percent of the population. Foreign and PRC-born spouses were reportedly targets of social discrimination outside and, at times, inside the home.
In December 2016 the legislature passed amendments to the Nationality Act that eased restrictions on naturalization of foreign spouses married to Taiwan passport holders. Some PRC-born spouses complained it was discriminatory that they must wait six years to apply for Taiwan residency, whereas foreign-born spouses from other countries may apply after three years. Unlike non-PRC spouses, PRC-born spouses have permission to work in Taiwan immediately on arrival. The amended Nationality Act does not apply to PRC-born spouses.
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 that 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.
Following President Tsai’s 2016 formal apology to Taiwan’s indigenous peoples for past injustices, her office set up an Indigenous Historical Justice and Transitional Justice Commission led by the president. The Executive Yuan convened the Indigenous Peoples Basic Law Promotion Committee and released its first annual report on progress in addressing historical injustices.
The Indigenous Languages Development Act took effect in June, designating the languages of Taiwan’s 16 indigenous tribes as national languages. The act follows the Indigenous Peoples Basic Law of 2005 and the Indigenous Traditional Intellectual Creations Protection Act of 2007. The Languages Act entitles indigenous peoples to use their languages in official settings.
In February the Executive Yuan’s Council of Indigenous Peoples announced guidelines on the delineation of government-owned traditional indigenous territories. Indigenous rights advocates argued that a large amount of indigenous land was seized and privatized decades ago and that the exclusion deprived indigenous communities of the rights to participate in the development of these traditional territories.
Existing law stipulates that authorities and the private sector should consult with indigenous people and obtain their consent to and/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 current Legislative Yuan has two indigenous legislators elected on proportional representation party lists.
Acts of Violence, Discrimination, and Other Abuses Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
The law stipulates that employers cannot discriminate against job seekers based on sexual orientation and also prohibits schools from discriminating against students based on their gender temperament, gender identity, or sexual orientation.
Activists for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) rights said discrimination against LGBTI persons was more widespread than suggested by the number of court cases, due to victims’ reluctance to lodge formal complaints. Reported instances of violence against LGBTI individuals were rare, and the police response was adequate.
HIV and AIDS Social Stigma
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.).