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Taiwan: Proposed Change to Police Uniforms Act in Order to Comply with CEDAW

(Dec. 4, 2014) On November 27, 2014, Taiwan’s Cabinet approved a draft amendment to the Police Uniforms Act that would permit on-duty policewomen to wear pants year-round. The proposed change, which was put forward by the Ministry of Interior (MOI), is another step towards Taiwan’s full implementation of the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), even though Taiwan is not a signatory. (ROC Cabinet OKs Amended Law on Police Uniforms, TAIWAN TODAY (Nov. 28, 2014).)

Article 5 of the current Act sets forth instructions on uniforms for male and female officers. Section D of the instructions, “Descriptions of Female Police,” states that the bottom part of the uniform “[s]hall be a straight skirt falling wider to the hem with a 16 cm slit in the back” section E, “Descriptions of Female Police Standard Uniform,” states that the bottom “[s]hall be culottes in proper length in summer and trousers without cuffs in winter … .” (Police Uniforms Act (July 2, 1937, as last amended May 30, 2001), LAWS & REGULATIONS DATABASE OF THE REPUBLIC OF CHINA (toggle to view Chinese text; there is also a hyperlink on that page to a .pdf explanatory document for article 5 that includes pictures of the police attire).)

Cabinet spokesman Sun Lih-chyun was quoted as saying “the amendment deletes the uniform style requirement in the fifth article of the act and allows the MOI to set related standards going forward. In addition to complying with the U.N. convention, it enables policewomen to carry out their duties more comfortably and efficiently.” (ROC Cabinet OKs Amended Law on Police Uniforms, supra.) In future, he added, uniform standards would be implemented only “for duty-related reasons.” Sun noted that similar reforms on attire are expected to be carried out in other government agencies and educational institutions nationwide. (Id.)

The draft amendment will be sent for review to the Legislative Yuan (Taiwan’s main legislative body) before the end of the current session on December 31. (Id.)

Taiwan adopted the CEDAW Enforcement Act in May 2011; it entered into force on January 1, 2012. Since its entry into effect, over 33,000 laws, regulations, and procedures have been reviewed; the 226 found non-compliant are scheduled for amendment by the end of 2014. (Id.; Wendy Zeldin, Taiwan: Law Implementing CEDAW Adopted, GLOBAL LEGAL MONITOR (May 31, 2011); Text of the CEDAW Enforcement Act (promulgated June 8, 2011), 53:8 JUDICIAL YUAN GAZETTE (Aug. 2011) (in Chinese).)