‘Let’s not just let this go this time’: Taiwan faces #MeToo wave sparked by Netflix hit

‘Let’s not just let this go this time’: Taiwan faces #MeToo wave sparked by Netflix hit
via Netflix
Michelle De Pacina
July 7, 2023
Hit Taiwanese Netflix show “Wave Makers” has set off a #MeToo movement in Taiwan, with allegations rocking the island nation’s media and political circles.
“Wave Makers”: The Netflix series follows a team of campaign staff members of a fictional Taiwanese political party as they navigate through tough decisions during the runup to a presidential election. The hit show tackles workplace sexual harassment, the death penalty, immigration, same-sex marriage and environmental issues. 
It features a subplot about a female campaign member who opens up about being sexually harassed by a party member to her boss, who then promises to help her report the incident. 
One line in particular, “Let’s not just let this go this time,” has gained momentum with viewers, inspiring more than 100 Taiwanese people, mostly women, to speak out about their own experiences of sexual harassment and assault.
#MeToo stories: One of the women who have spoken out is Chen Chien-jou, a 22-year-old former campaign worker who was allegedly groped by a TV director working with the ruling Democratic Progressive Party for a project last year. 
When Chen told the party’s head of women affairs about the incident, she was allegedly treated in a “cold and humiliating” manner. 
“I was hit with questions like ‘Why didn’t you jump out of the van’ and ‘why didn’t you scream,’” Chen told AFP. “I felt I was denied and blamed, and it’s a joke (to the superior) who showed no respect for what I felt.”
Chen’s story has since gone viral, prompting others to share their own accounts of unwanted advances by colleagues or bosses in the workplace.
 “I hope that the people who are willing to stand up during this wave can get the justice they deserve,” Chen said. “And for those who can’t talk about it right now, I hope they find the means to keep going.”
Powerful figures accused: One of the most prominent figures accused of harassment is Yen Chih-fa — senior advisor to President Tsai Ing-wen — who resigned from his post after denying the allegations. Tsai Mu-lin, a high-level party official, also reportedly stepped down from his position after a female party staff member accused him of silencing her after she reported a male colleague who had tried to enter her hotel room.
“The Democratic Progressive Party has regarded itself as the governing party that supports gender equality,” Fan Yun, a party legislator, told The New York Times. “The Netflix show was seen by others as a snapshot of what’s happening within the party, and it has brought about great impact.”
The #MeToo allegations have also affected academia and the entertainment industry in Taiwan, including singer Aaron Yan, who was accused of secretly filming sex tapes with his then-minor ex-boyfriend. 
Push for reforms: Amid the emerging allegations, women’s rights groups and lawyers have urged for workplace harassment reforms and called for stronger protections for victims.
According to a survey conducted by the Ministry of Labor last year, about 79% of women reported being harassed at work without filing a complaint. The Taiwan Bar Association announced free legal counsel to #MeToo accusers to help shield victims from vindictive lawsuits.
Lawmakers have promised to pass changes to laws in order to make workplaces and schools safer. The #MeToo wave poses risks to the ruling party’s credibility ahead of the presidential election next year as younger generations now have a higher awareness of gender diversity and equality.
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