This report first appeared in the Garden of Hope’s Newsletter, Vol. 5 No. 04. More information about their work can be found online HERE
The Garden of Hope Foundation has been organising events and activities in line with the international One Billion Rising Movement since this January. One such event was held in the advent of International Women’s Day, when the Garden of Hope invited Fu Kun-Qi, the Hualian County magistrate, to take a stride towards non-violence by signing a declaration symbolising Hualian’s determination to end all forms of abuse and create a safe and non-violent environment in the entire county.
The event began with an enthusiastic African drum performance from a group of young women called the Sunshine Girls. The attendees of the event were particularly diverse, which brilliantly exemplified people of different genders, ages, ethnicities and professions all standing up against violence in unison. Among the guests were Chen Jiafu, vice head of department at the Hualian Social Affairs and Information Department, Lin Hui-Ru, section chief of the Social Work Branch of the Hualian Social Affairs and Information Department, Wen Ming’e, president of the Hualian Lien Hua Lions Club along with a group of fellow lionesses, Cai Yun-Qing, deputy director of the Hualien branch of the Legal Aid Foundation, Li Wen-Ping, president of the Hualian Bar Association, as well as headmasters Jiang Zheng-Ru and Li Shu-Ting. A group of people working in the field of social welfare and compassionate students from different schools also enthusiastically took part in the event.
Hualian city’s anti-violence declaration
Xu Zhen-Yu, the Hualian County magistrate’s wife, also came to the event, expressing the Hualian County Government’s support for the One Billion Rising movement. She commended the Garden of Hope for their continued efforts in opposing domestic violence by providing their services to women, but lamented that everybody’s efforts are necessary in order to prevent domestic violence completely. She reminded people to donate for this cause, so that we could progress towards a more compassionate social environment together. Wen Ming’e and her fellow lionesses also brought attention to the fact that mothers need special encouragement to stand up against domestic abuse, as giving their children a chance to grow up in a non-violent environment will break the vicious cycle of violence in the future.
Cai Yun-Qing shared her experiences with legal cases related to domestic violence, including one where a teacher inquired about helping a child witness of domestic abuse. She also explained revisions and amendments of domestic violence laws that will be implemented in the near future. These comprised the expansion of the definition and scope of the term “domestic abuse” to include economic coercion among family members, the expansion of the definition of “stalking,” along with different plans for counseling, and providing protection for witnesses of domestic violence, including child witnesses, for a an unlimited number of renewable periods of up to 2 years each. Cai Yun-Qing also emphasised the importance of men fighting violence alongside women.
People aged 5 to 80 years fight violence side by side
In true One Billion Rising fashion, towards the end of the event, kindergarteners from Ming Chi Primary School and attendees from all walks of life joined together to perform a dance against violence. The performance was followed by a bass drum show by Qing Gu-Dui, the president of the Hualian Culture Association, that can only be described as majestic. The event culminated with all participants joining together to proclaim: “We all drum together to stop violence!”
Cao Yi-Zhen, director of the Garden of Hope Foundation Hualian branch, said that the Garden of Hope has been providing their services to victims of domestic abuse for 4 years and has already helped over 100 women. However, many women still face difficulties and dangers when trying to escape from their violent situations. For example, a year ago the Garden of Hope provided their services to a woman who thought she was finally safe after getting a divorce, only to suffer a brutal beating from her ex-husband that resulted in a near-fatal brain injury. Another example is a woman who managed to escape to another city in a different province, but had to return to her abuser’s side because she could not support herself.
The Garden of Hope is deeply concerned for the safety and wellbeing of all women and firmly believes that we must change our laws, our education, our culture and our social system to create a truly non-violent society.