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Former officer recalls sexual assaults during Taiwan army service
Publication Date : 04-09-2013
A former medical officer who claims to have been a victim of sexual assault when she served in the military on the outlying island of Kinmen over 20 years ago shared her story on Armed Forces Day yesterday, and called for changes in the military to encourage victims like her to seek help and justice.
The woman, who identified herself only as “Sister Orchid,” called for more public attention to sexual assault in the military and for efforts to bring such crimes to an end.
“The military really has to change” to make the system more friendly to people who wish to file complaints and more responsive to such requests, she said while launching a book about her past at an event in Taipei organized by the Garden of Hope Foundation, a women's rights group.
“Sister Orchid” traces her ordeal back to 1989, when she left her husband and children behind on Taiwan proper to serve at a military hospital on Kinmen.
She accused a professor at the hospital, now the government-run Kinmen Hospital, of making a failed attempt to assault her shortly after she was transferred there.
However, she fell victim to a later attack by a battalion commander at an Army base on the island.
She said she chose to keep the matter to herself at that time for fear of being accused by the military of misconduct on her part and to avoid gossip by her colleagues.
Out of concern for her family, she said she even held the matter back from her husband after she was transferred back to the Taichung Armed Forces General Hospital in 1990.
For the next few years, the author said, she lived with tremendous trauma that made her mentally unstable and resulted in rifts in her relationship, and her marriage eventually fell apart. She retired from the military in 1993.
She did not find support until she met social workers at the foundation in 2010, with whose help she rose above her traumatic experience and developed enough courage to write a book about it.
The Ministry of National Defense responded by urging the former officer to bring her case to a prosecutors' office that has jurisdiction over the matter. It also said it has no evidence or information on her being subject to sexual assaults.
According to Defense Ministry statistics, there were 161 sexual assaults involving military personnel between Jan. 1, 2009 and Dec. 31, 2011, with the assailants in all cases being males.
Of the 17 victims who were attacked on military premises, 11 were male and the other six were female. The 144 remaining victims were civilians who were assaulted off- base, according to the data.