Inspired By A Netflix Show, This Taiwanese Woman Said She Was Sexually Harassed By A Filmmaker And Started Taiwan’s First #MeToo Movement

“Let’s not just forget about it, okay?”, Chen Chien-jou wrote in her post, quoting a critical moment from the show “Wave Makers’>

Inspired By A Netflix Show, This Taiwanese Woman Said She Was Sexually Harassed By A Filmmaker And Started Taiwan’s First #MeToo Movement

More than a dozen of women in Taiwan have come forward with stories of sexual harassment, sparking the country’s first #MeToo movement.

On May 31st, a former staff member from Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) said in a Facebook post that she had been sexually harassed while working for the political party in September 2022.

Chen Chien-jou

After months of trying to forget the incident, Chen Chien-jou (陳汘瑈) said she eventually found the courage to speak out after being inspired by a young woman character in the recent Taiwanese Netflix show Wave Makers, which follows a group of political staff members during election season in Taiwan.

Wave Makers promotional photo via Netflix

“Let’s not just forget about it, okay? Many things can’t just be forgotten. If you do that, you’ll slowly die. You’ll die,” Chen wrote in her post, quoting a critical moment from the show, when a senior woman supervisor tells the young woman character, Ya-ching Chang (張亞靜), not to give up and to fight for justice after being sexually harassed.

In her post, Chen said that she had been sexually harassed by a filmmaker on a shoot while she was working for the DPP.

Chen Chien-jou

She said that the filmmaker had put her head on his shoulder and touched her neck, chin and chest without her consent while they were driving back from a shoot.

Chen said she reported the incident to her woman supervisor, Hsu Chia-Tien (薛朝輝), who is now the DPP’s deputy secretary general, but Hsu victim blamed her and dismissed the case.

Hsu Chia-Tien, former DPP deputy secretary general, who Chen says dismissed her sexual harassment case.

Chen said Hsu asked her, “Why didn’t you jumped out of the car? Why didn’t you scream?”.

Chen’s post went viral, and at least 15 women and men then came forward with stories of being sexually harassed or having their sexual harassment cases mishandled, mostly by DPP’s political members.

The stories started a #MeToo movement, leading to at least two top DPP officials to resign, including Hsu and Yan Chih-fa (顏志發), the president’s policy advisor who has been accused of sexual harassment by another woman.

Yan Chih-fa (顏志發), policy advisor to Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen has resigned after he allegedly sexually harassed a young women.

On Tuesday June 6, Taiwan’s first woman president Tsai Ing-Wen apologized to the victims of sexual harassment and promised to investigate the incidents.

TAIPEI, TAIWAN – 2020/08/28: President Tsai Ing-wen speaks during a press conference at the presidential palace. Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen expressed her desire this week for her country to reach a bilateral trade agreement with the United States, saying it would “strengthen our engagement” and help establish “a rules-based trade order” in the region. (Photo by Walid Berrazeg/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Tsai said she has also instructed party leaders to improve procedures for dealing with sexual misconduct and reports of sexual misconduct.

Taiwan is often viewed as one of the most progressive and democratic countries in Asia – having elected a woman president and legalized same-sex marriage, but its culture remains conservative and patriarchal, and women frequently face stigma for speaking out.

Taiwanese actress Hsieh Ying-xuan (L) as Wen-fang Weng, a senior woman supervisor at a political party who encourages Ya-ching Chang (R), played by Gingle Wang, to pursue justice after being sexually harassed, in the Netflix drama “Wave Makers”. (Photo via Netflix)

However, this is the first time victims have actively come forward to share their experiences, despite previous #MeToo marches.

DPP lawmaker Fan Yun and her supporters hold up a sign with a pivotal quote from the Netflix drama “Wave Makers” after she won US$2,600 in damages in a case against a KMT lawmakers for inappropriately touching and using demeaning language toward her. (Photo via Fan Yun / Facebook)

The stories, which began in the political sphere, have since spread, and people have come forward with experiences of being sexually harassed by prominent figures in politics, business, media and literature.

In light of the revelations, which come ahead of a general election in January 2024, Tsai and her DPP party – which favors Taiwanese independence – has lost popularity, according to polls.

Tsai Ing-Wen waves after addressing supporters following her re-election as President of Taiwan on January 11, 2020 in Taipei, Taiwan. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

However, the DPP is not the only party facing sexual harassment charges; members of Taiwan’s other main political party, the KMT – which favors closer ties to China – are also facing allegations of sexual misconduct.

Taiwanese actress Gingle Wang as Ya-ching Chang, a young woman working for a political party who is sexually harassed, in the Netflix drama “Wave Makers”. (Photo via Netflix)

The writers of Wave Makers said they did not intend for the show to be associated with the #MeToo movement.

Taiwanese actress Hsieh Ying-xuan (L) as Wen-fang Weng with Ya-ching Chang (R), played by Gingle Wang, in the Taiwanese Netflix Drama “Wave Makers”. (Photo via Netflix)

However, screenwriter Chien Li-ying has acknowledged that while talking about women’s struggle in the workplace, “you can’t avoid talking about sexual harassment”.

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