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Performance artist Qin Wei on trial for multiple cases of sexual assault

On November 4th, Taiwanese performance artist Qin Wei (秦偉) was found guilty of seven cases of sexual assault and three cases of attempted sexual assault following a four-month-long police investigation.

The district prosecutor is seeking 49 years’ imprisonment.

The investigation began in August after several women including local artist Bin Xiaobu (濱小步) came forward to denounce Qin Wei as a sex offender. In total, 14 victims have reported Qin Wei sexually assaulted them or attempted to do so: they claimed he used “cruel techniques” (cubao shoufa) to coerce them into unwanted sex, not only physically forcing himself on them, but also emotionally manipulating them so as to overcome their resistance. He would insist he loved them and wanted to have children with them; in some cases, he’d also threaten to go to their husband. After he was done, he would cut all ties with the women.

Several cases date back to ten years or more, and many of the women he raped were lured to his house in Taipei, Xinyi district or at a nearby hotel under the pretense of a modeling job. Some of them were very young and he took advantage of their lack of experience and professional dreams to take them into unfamiliar settings and pressure them into unwanted sex, despite their clear discomfort and physical resistance. One such victim he assaulted in 2007 was 17 years old. Before that in 2002, he solicited a young girl for a sound recording and raped her in the building’s lavatory.

She was 14 years old.

He would also start conversations with women working in the arts, usually about music products or screenplays, and invite them over for a meal to continue chatting. Many of his victims were contacted via Facebook. The meeting would always end the same way: with Qin Wei forcing himself on the woman in spite of her vocal and physical resistance. A few were lucky enough to escape. A victim he cornered in the bathroom of a TV studio was saved by an employee knocking on the door.

After Bin Xiaobu came forward in August along with other victims, police arrested Qin Wei at his house in Xinyi, confiscating his cellphone and computer in the process. It would seem they contained recordings and pictures of the assaults, taken by Qin Wei.

The artist has denied the accusations leveled against him. He is now awaiting trial and is kept on close watch. He also faces fraud-related charges.

The conclusions of the investigation came the same week the New Taipei City district prosecutor’s office filed a lawsuit against a 40-year-old man from Banqiao suspected of sexual assault on his young daughter. The girl testified he molested her throughout elementary school all the way to junior high school; it was during a sex education class in March 2016 that she realized what had happened and tearfully revealed her father’s actions to a teacher. It appears that from 2010 to 2013 and up to three times a week, the man helped his daughter shower in order to touch her in inappropriate ways. He started when she was in the third grade of elementary school – that is, 8 years old. Her young age prevented her from understanding what exactly was going on at the time.

The prosecution started on November 3rd. So far, the father has denied the accusations made by his child, saying he did not understand why she would say such confusing things (luan jianghua).

Meanwhile on November 4th -and in a rather timely fashion- a feminist association in Zhunan, Miaoli County organized a manifestation against domestic violence with a group of children from kindergarden, who took to the streets to remind the population of the special-purpose phone line for the protection of women and children (113).

The 2015 USA Country Reports on Human Rights Practices noted that 7,175 reports were filed for rape and sexual assault in Taiwan; however, numerous NGOs and academics estimate the actual number of sexual assaults to be 7 to 10 times the number reported to the police, the victims being afraid to come forward because of social stigma. A large-scale survey conducted by the Taiwanese government in 2016 found that one in four Taiwanese women had faced partner abuse in the past.

According to the Taiwanese NGO Child Welfare League Foundation, in 2013 a child abuse case was reported on average every 30 minutes, with 92 percent of the victims being preschool-age children.

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