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Executive Yuan passes draft amendments to four laws to protect against sexual violence crimes

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At the Cabinet's weekly meeting Thursday, Premier Su Tseng-chang received a briefing from the Ministry of Justice on the development of a protective network against crimes of online sexual violence. Incidents of gender-based violence on the internet and other digital environments have been proliferating in recent years, the premier said, and these depraved acts must be severely punished by the law. Accordingly, the Executive Yuan on Thursday passed draft amendments to four laws aimed at constructing a comprehensive protective network to guard against gender-based violence. Moreover, the Stalking and Harassment Prevention Act will also come into effect in June, which will adopt more stringent legal measures to safeguard the physical and mental safety of vulnerable gender groups.

The technological progress and widespread use of the internet have brought more convenience to people's lives, the premier said, but it has also given rise to many new forms of illegal activity. In recent years, incidents of gender-based violence on the internet and other digital environments have multiplied, causing devastating and indelible harm to people's privacy, security and personal dignity. The public condemns these acts.

To address this issue, Premier Su emphasized that both the Executive Yuan and Judicial Yuan are making a concerted effort to advance amendments to the Criminal Code of the Republic of China, Sexual Assault Crime Prevention Act, Child and Youth Sexual Exploitation Prevention Act, and Crime Victim Protection Act.

Taking the needs of victims as the starting point, the proposed amendments will build a more comprehensive protective network against gender-based violence by strengthening the cooperation and coordination of institutions across different regions. This network will prevent the occurrence and reoccurrence of cases by increasing criminal liability, imposing heavier penalties on perpetrators and providing appropriate treatments. After an incident has occurred, harmful images can also be swiftly deleted or confiscated to reduce secondary victimization, and victims can be provided relevant protections and assistance with all possible speed.

The premier also directed ministries and agencies to do their respective parts in follow-up prevention efforts: Frontline prosecutors, police and law enforcement officials should receive the required education and training; the Ministry of Education and other agencies should make an all-out effort to strengthen gender equality education; and parents, teachers and employers all have the responsibilities and obligations to teach their children, students and employees about developing proper knowledge of digital citizenship so that users can learn to protect themselves and not harm others.

It is not only the government that must devote effort to this, the premier continued. Internet platform operators, as well as businesses of all types, should also take up their responsibility to protect human rights. For instance, tech companies must first consider all aspects and precautions when designing services and creating products, instead of addressing issues only after those services and products have been exploited as tools for online sexual violence. When it comes to prevention, it takes changes in conceptual thinking and concerted actions by the public and private sectors to build a harmonious, safe and healthy society for everyone.

Taiwan has been making significant advances in gender equality. The 2022 edition of the book Gender at a Glance in R.O.C. (Taiwan) published by the Executive Yuan's Department of Gender Equality points out that Taiwan in recent years ranked first in Asia and sixth globally for gender equality. The government is also committed to eliminating gender-based violence: With the Stalking and Harassment Prevention Act taking effect in June, and the four draft amendments on gender-based violence passed today, the government will create a tighter law enforcement process to safeguard the physical and mental safety of vulnerable gender groups.

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