Writer's suicide after alleged rape by teacher puts cramming culture in spotlight

Writer's suicide after alleged rape by teacher puts cramming culture in spotlight
In the aftermath of the suicide of Lin Yi-han. a young writer haunted by an alleged rape by her cram school tutor, Taiwan is reexamining its prevalent cram-school culture.
PHOTO: The China Post/Asia News Network

TAIPEI, TAIWAN - In the aftermath of the suicide of Lin Yi-han. a young writer haunted by an alleged rape by her cram school tutor, Taiwan is reexamining its prevalent cram-school culture.

In a reaction to the alleged offence, New Power Party (NPP) Legislator Hung Tzu-yung on Wednesday called for an amendment to the law to mandate that all cram school teachers register with their real names.

A rising sentiment of agitation and grievance among the public has led to a wave of reflection on the wide-spread cram school culture after the suicide of the 26-year-old novelist.

Lin was best known for her acclaimed novel about a high school girl enticed into sexual relations by her cram-school tutor.

After her death, the novelist's parents wrote on social media claiming that their daughter died not just because of the major depressive order she had struggled with since she was 16 years old, but also because she had been traumatized by a similar offence allegedly committed by her cram school instructor when she was in high school.

Lin's name had been withheld by local Chinese-language media upon the request of authorities in Tainan as it is illegal to reveal the names of victims according to the Sexual Assault Prevention Act.

The late novelist's death and the subsequent revelations about her alleged rape have become one of highest profile stories in Taiwan, prompting others to come forward to share their experiences with predatory cram school teachers.

The NPP's Hung demanded on Wednesday that the Supplementary Education Act be amended to require that every cram school owner and teacher hired is registered under their real names for the protection of students.

Over the years, inappropriate behaviour by popular cram-school teachers had been allowed to go unpunished with the help of the institutions they serve in, Hung said, because the schools did not want to risk damaging their reputation by reporting their teachers.

Secretly Fired

Those who were secretly fired by schools were free to use other aliases and work at other schools as if nothing had happened, she said.

A real-name system required by law would help increase cram schools' responsibility to report on problematic teachers, she added.

With all schools and teachers being registered under real names, authorities could go as far as revoking the school's business license should there be any form of inappropriate or illegal behaviour, Hung said.

Varied Opinions

Dai Juan, director of the Country Prep Institute cram school, said on Wednesday that the main reason cram-school teachers tended to be unwilling to reveal their real names was because they also worked in the public service sector or at public schools.

The law currently forbids employees in the public sector from taking another job at a private business.

Sometimes, cram schools ask teachers to use aliases because they have also worked at other cram schools. Some just use aliases because they are sound better, or they were given by a fortune-teller in the hope of bringing better business or luck.

Kuo Fong-chi, director of Ju Xian cram school said that larger cram schools, especially those that target public service exam takers, will feel a bigger hit if a real-name system is implemented, as a lot of teachers worked part time there.

The Taipei City Educational Association wrote in a statement late on Wednesday that they believed that a compulsory real-name system would do little to prevent sexual assaults in cram schools.

The association suggested increasing punishments for those found guilty of the crime instead of a real-name system, but added that should the law be amended, it would fully co-operate.

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