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Taiwanese Women: Safety an Issue

March 8, 1998

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) _ Declaring that most women in Taiwan are afraid to ride in taxis or public buses, activists complained Sunday that authorities were not taking women’s safety seriously.

The Modern Women’s Foundation released a survey in which 78.2 percent of the women questioned said they fear for their safety when taking taxis, and 60.7 percent didn’t feel safe on public buses.

In addition, 76.6 percent feared being filmed by gangs that hide tiny cameras in public toilets, motel rooms and college dormitories, and then sell the tapes through the mail.

The telephone survey of 1,097 women was conducted Feb. 25-27. Its margin of error was given as 3.2 percent.

Police have yet to solve the December 1996 rape and murder of an opposition party politician who disappeared after entering a taxi. The crime rekindled public distrust of taxi drivers, many of whom have criminal records and can easily rent taxis by the day.

Other fears were raised by disclosures that one of the island’s most notorious killers committed a series of rapes during the months while he was on the run from police. Recent arrests of secret taping rings and seizures of tapes have also raised worries.

Pan Wei-kang, a legislator and head of the foundation, said the survey results should be a wakeup call for the government.

``These results represent a storm warning over women’s safety,″ she told a news conference. The warning was issued as part of the observance in Taiwan of International Women’s Day.

Chang Ching-hua, a National Taiwan University professor, complained that the government has yet to take any concrete measures to meet women’s safety concerns.

``Government authorities have yet to take the issue of women’s safety seriously,″ Chang said.

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