“Due to Wave Makers, we at the moment are seeing the primary wave of a #MeToo motion in Taiwan,” mentioned Chen Mei-hua, a professor of sociology and feminism at Nationwide Solar Yat-sen College.
In a pivotal scene within the present, which premiered on the finish of April, a staffer complains about being sexually harassed by a colleague. Though the revelation is damaging for the get together, the get together spokeswoman received’t permit the difficulty to drop. “Let’s not simply let this go,” she tells the feminine staffer.
That line has since grow to be a rallying cry for a flood of sexual harassment and assault allegations — together with a number of cases which have sparked high-level resignations throughout the ruling Democratic Progressive Get together.
This prompted President Tsai Ing-wen to subject a public apology.
“Our society as a complete should educate ourselves once more,” Tsai mentioned in Fb put up on Tuesday night time after extra allegations surfaced. “The individuals who have been sexually harassed are the victims, not the individuals who did flawed. These are folks we wish to shield, not deal with with prejudice,” mentioned Tsai.
The accusations have caused the DPP’s favorability rankings to plummet simply as Taiwan gears up for a tricky election marketing campaign. The ruling get together, in energy for 2 phrases, dangers dropping to the nationalist Kuomintang. The KMT prioritizes nearer ties with China, which claims the island democracy as a part of its territory.
The “Wave Makers” scriptwriters got down to produce a present about ladies in politics, somewhat than specializing in #MeToo points.
“However if you wish to handle the challenges ladies face within the office, you’ll be able to’t keep away from speaking about sexual harassment,” mentioned Chien. “Particularly in organizations the place the collective aim is prioritized over particular person wants, there may be usually a tradition of self-sacrifice.”
In a flip of occasions straight out of the present, the DPP’s deputy secretary basic, Hsu Chia-tien, resigned final week after a former staffer mentioned in an in depth Fb post that Hsu had dismissed her sexual harassment criticism.
“Let’s not simply let this go,” the Fb put up started, ending with a screenshot from “Wave Makers.”
The previous staffer mentioned Hsu had responded to her criticism with a query that echoed one put to writer E. Jean Carroll in her current trial in opposition to former president Donald Trump: Why didn’t you scream for assist?
As additional sexual harassment allegations have surfaced within the week for the reason that “Wave Makers”-inspired Fb put up, two extra DPP officers have stepped down. A senior adviser to the president resigned on Tuesday.
Throughout the identical interval, the DPP’s favorability score has dropped by half, in response to the Taiwan Public Opinion Middle.
The get together’s chairman and candidate for president, Lai Ching-te, has vowed zero tolerance for any future harassment throughout the get together. Lai has proposed an official inquiry into the accusations, which Tsai has endorsed.
Lai additionally arrange a hotline for folks to report incidents on to the get together secretary basic and mentioned get together members ought to take gender equality programs, which he would additionally attend.
The accusations haven’t been restricted to the DPP. Throughout the aisle, a KMT legislator has been accused of grabbing a feminine journalist’s hand and kissing her head in 2014.
Though “Wave Makers” and the preliminary Fb put up it impressed had been involved with politics, folks throughout Taiwan have now come ahead with experiences of harassment by college professors, medical doctors, administrators and baseball umpires.
Gender equality has been a degree of satisfaction in Taiwanese politics, particularly in contrast with neighboring China, the place ladies are more and more being informed to have infants and the political management is totally male.
Taiwan has been led by a girl for almost a decade, and 42% of its members of parliament are feminine — effectively above the worldwide common of roughly 27%, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
However the authorities has till now been gradual to reply to reported instances of sexual harassment.
In line with the Ministry of Well being and Welfare, whereas there have been 17,000 sexual assaults reported in 2022, there have been simply 2,100 incidents of sexual harassment. Consultants say individuals are unwilling to come back ahead with studies of harassment the place any ambiguity may exist.
Chen, the professor, says these numbers are seemingly a significant underestimate, and that many individuals stay silent.
It’s too early to inform how Taiwan’s #MeToo second will have an effect on the upcoming presidential election. “MeToo just isn’t a partisan subject,” mentioned Chen. “Issues change quickly throughout election season in Taiwan, so it’s not like there’s no likelihood to show the tide.”
For her half, Chien, the “Wave Makers” screenwriter, mentioned within the wake of the response to the present, she was herself compelled to share — and posted on Fb her personal account of being sexually harassed.
“Lots of people have endured for a extremely very long time with out an emotional outlet,” she mentioned.