June 17, 2010 Leave a comment
Well many of us remember the days of childhood where a valued piece of candy or food was dropped on the floor. Even though we knew that the food/candy was dirty, somehow in our minds we convince ourselves that minimal impact with the ground for less than X amount of seconds is an acceptable time for the retrieval of said food. Well, now as adults it seems we have another reason to hang on to our pretense that everything is okay. After a court ruling (that in English conveniently does not mention this 10 second rule) which basically states that short periods of unwanted touching that is on the waist and shoulders is legally acceptable. Just keep your unwanted touching sessions to less than 10 seconds. Reading this article also seems to indicate that mitigating circumstances include a personal apology email after charges are filed.
Updated Thursday, June 17, 2010 10:07 am TWN, The China Post news staff
Waist, shoulders not ‘private parts’: court
TAIPEI, Taiwan — An appeals court yesterday acquitted a man of sexual harassment on the grounds that waists and shoulders do not constitute “private parts.”
Chang Guo-hua, a 36-year-old IT company manager, was found guilty and sentenced to 40-day detention by the Hsinchu District local court for wrapping his hand around the waist and shoulder of a female subordinate several times in an after work co-worker gathering in Feb. 2008.
According to the verdict by the district court, Chang had made several advances toward the subordinate, who is in her twenties, via instant messenger chats as early as 2007 but was rejected. The female employee told the district court that she felt offended when Chang touched her. She tried to dodge him by moving her body but he kept holding on to her with his hand. At the end, she stood up and left the party.
Chang apologized to her via email only after she complained to her superior and decided to push for charges.
The district court convicted Chang based on his apology email and the fact that his action against the plaintiff’s will had offended her.
However, the High Court, which heard the appeal case, ruled that Chang only expressed in the email that he was “sorry for all impolite action verbally and physically” but did not specifically admit touching the plaintiff’s shoulder and waist.
The High Court also judged that since the waist and shoulder of a woman are not different from those of a man and that women often wear clothing that reveals the waist and shoulder in summer, these two body parts cannot be regarded as private. Therefore, even if Chang had touched the plaintiff on her shoulder and waist, his action does not constitute sexual harassment as described by the current Sexual Harassment Prevention Act, which stated that the crime involves the touching of “buttocks, breasts or other private body parts.”
The Modern Women’s Foundation’s Executive Director Yao Shu-wen decried the High Court’s acquittal of Chang, criticizing the judges for being “detached from the plaintiff’s feelings” and for failing to understand the different perceptions of a”private part” by men and women, according to the newspaper Apple Daily.
Tseng Chao-yuan (曾昭媛), the secretary-general of the Awakening Foundation, also called for the amendment of the Sexual Harassment Prevention Act to be amended by substituting the restrictive list of “buttocks, breasts or other private body parts” with more general terms like “the invading and harassing of one’s body” so a better standard for judgment can be formed by the court through field work.
In every legal system there is a difficulty for judges in separating the intent against the letter of the law, and many people question the validity of these decisions. However, a closer examination of situations like this that set precedent or provide clarifications to the interpretation of the law should be evaluated much more carefully. Furthermore, a disciplinary panel or public morality panel should consider the decisions of sitting judges since it appears that independent rulings from a panel of judges is not adequate. While this is not a complete or realistic solution, something needs to be done in the interim since the creation of law in Taiwan and a more mature evaluation of law in this ‘child democracy’ (as the judicial excuses from Taiwan keep pointing out).