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Legislators call for harsh punishment of pedophiles
Central News Agency
2010-05-18 05:59 PM
Taipei, May 18 (CNA) Harsh punishment, such as sentences without any chance for parole, should be imposed on sex offenders of young victims to reduce recidivism, a lawmaker said Tuesday in calling for legislation similar to "Jessica's Law" in the U.S.

Kuomintang (KMT) lawmaker Yang Li-huan, a member of the Social Welfare and Environmental Hygiene Committee, said the rights of minor victims are often ignored because existing law is too lenient on the perpetrators.

Yang proposed a draft amendment to the Sexual Assault Prevention Act that would automatically sentence adults found guilty of molesting or assaulting minors under the age 12 to 20 years in prison with no chance of parole.

Her proposal is patterned after a Florida statute known as "Jessica's Law, " which mandates a minimum sentence of 25 years with no chance of parole and life-long electronic monitoring for adults convicted of sexual offenses against children under 12 years old.

"Offenses against defenseless children are despicable and condemnable acts. Harsher punishment must be imposed on sex offenders or else it would give the wrong impression that the consequence for molesting our children is no more than a slap on the wrist, " Yang said.

The lawmaker also called for an establishment of an open-access database containing information on pedophiles. The data would be updated twice a year and contain information going back 10 years.

Ex-convicts would also have to register with a government agency and be electronically monitored so their whereabouts could be known at all times.

According to Child Welfare League Foundation office director Cheng Min-ching, eight to 10 percent of sexual battery cases in Taiwan involve minors under 12.

About 50 percent of the perpetrators are family members and only 10 percent are strangers, she said, and the number of cases is increasing by at least 1,000 annually.

Yang said there have been cases in Taiwan where young victims do not dare to come forward to testify against their offenders because they are either manipulated or intimidated by family pressure.

"Moreover, some victims were so young when the act took place that they did not understand how to fight back. Young children are often very obedient, especially to a male member of the family," she said, citing a case where an elderly man was acquitted of raping a four-year old girl because the judge said there was insufficient evidence that she put up a struggle.

Cheng also called on the justice system to be sensitive when questioning young victims so they do not have to relive the painful experience over and over again.

(By Jenny W. Hsu)



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