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Taiwanese media is blaming victims for their own assault

Publication Date : 19-02-2014


At midnight on February 9 in New Taipei City, a female nurse attended a karaoke party held by the clinic where she works. After the party, she was drunk and waiting for her colleagues in the karaoke's lobby, alone. Three men came into the lobby, saw her lying on the floor unconscious, picked her up and went to a nearby hotel.

The victim woke up in the elevator of the hotel and the three men gave up on their plan soon after she screamed and struggled to free herself from their grip.

The incident went viral on the Internet and local media, with many people calling this kind of incident “corpse-picking” — a term used to describe the act of people taking a drunk or unconscious woman to a hotel or home for sex without the victim's consent.

This is unfortunately not a one-time incident. A 32-year-old male suspect was indicted last December in Taipei over allegations of sexually assaulting numerous drunken and unconscious women. Police said the suspect waited outside of several bars in Taipei for women who were drunk, stalked the victims and allegedly sexually assaulted them while they were unconscious.

Many have said that “corpse-picking” happens too often, especially at night and around holidays. Some people think that “corpse-picking” is a side effect of nightlife culture and claimed that those perpetrators only see an “opportunity” because the drunken women “lure” them to commit crimes.

“Corpse-picking” is not a part of nightlife culture, it is a crime. The problem is not how much should women drink, it should be how to prevent such crimes and condemn the perpetrators.

In 2013, the Modern Women's Foundation handled 250 cases of sexual assault, 50 of them involving female victims who were drunk and/or lost consciousness, the foundation recently said in a press conference.

The foundation said such crime usually happens between 2:30am and 3am, the perpetrator could be a stranger or an acquaintance of the victim, and some perpetrators would intentionally get their victims drunk while others choose their victims after discovering them lying drunk or unconscious on the street.

Regardless of whether or not the victim was drinking too much, sexual assaults shouldn't happen. The victim may not have resisted because she was drunk, but that does not mean she approves of what the perpetrator is doing to her.

In addition, it is cruel and unfair to describe the victims as “corpses,” even if this is just a metaphor. The word “corpse” indicates a lifeless object without consciousness, and the term “corpse-picking” suggests that the perpetrator is just picking up an object from the street. Victims are not lifeless objects.

To some extent, the use of the term is a “second assault” that traumatises victims of violence again by indirectly suggesting that they should somehow hold themselves accountable for what happened to them.

People should not sympathise with perpetrators or believe that those victims were “asking for it”. It is legal for every adult to drink and enjoy nightlife regardless of their gender. People should be aware of their own safety while having fun, but sexual assault is a crime whether the victim has been drinking or not.

Drinking is not the issue, crime is. We should condemn perpetrators who take advantage of victims instead of blaming the victims for their drunkenness.

Some might argue that freedom of speech allows people to describe the situation with whatever terms they want, but that's not the case for journalists who report on sex crimes. Being a member of the media, they are obligated to report what really happened instead of using this subjective and insensitive term for the victims.

The term “corpse-picking” might sound harmless to most people, but it is definitely a nightmare to all the victims of sexual assault.


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