CFLS Co-director Janine Benedet visited Taiwan in April 2016 at the invitation of Professor Chao-ju Chen of National Taiwan University Law School. Professor Chen is one of Taiwan’s leading feminist legal scholars and a member of the CFLS International Advisory Board and former CFLS Visiting Scholar. While in Taiwan, Professor Benedet presented two lectures at NTU on rape law and prostitution law reform in Canada. She then traveled from Taipei to the city of Tainan and repeated her rape law lecture at National Cheng Kung University. She also participated in roundtables and presentations at three leading NGO’s, the Garden of Hope Foundation, the Awakening Foundation, and the Taiwan Women’s Rescue Foundation.
Taiwan is grappling with many of the same legal issues as Canada, although there are some key differences. With regard to sexual assault, Taiwan is currently very interested in reforming age of consent laws, which do not admit of close-in-age exceptions, an issue of concern to Garden of Hope, which focuses on the sexual exploitation of youth. Adultery remains a criminal offence in Taiwan, something the Awakening Foundation, Taiwan’s oldest feminist organization, is campaigning to change, since the prohibition can be used by abusive men as a tool of coercive control against their spouses. The Taiwan Women’s Rescue Foundation is currently working to raise awareness of the abuse of Taiwanese so-called “comfort women” as well as to combat the phenomenon of “revenge porn” which is not yet criminalized in Taiwan. There was also much discussion of the election of Taiwan’s first woman President, and concern that she would not bring a feminist analysis to issues of concern to women. The visit was an amazing opportunity and we look forward to continued collaboration with feminist legal scholars and activists in Taiwan.