As Taiwanese women gain education, self-confidence, and economic independence, they are divorcing abusive husbands more than ever before or choosing to avoid marriage altogether.
Until recently, Taiwanese women did not have the legal right to file for divorce. Husbands were allowed to divorce their wives on the grounds of adultery or failure to produce a male child. Rejected wives were subject to public humiliation and social and often risked impoverishment.
The Taiwanese divorce rate is now 1 in 4.3, up from 1 in 17 twenty years ago. The decision to divorce is a difficult one for women, and often chosen only out of desperation. "Many divorced after having tolerated their husbands' physical abuses or affairs for 20 or 30 years," said Wango Yu-pao of the feminist group "Women's Awakening." Women's hesitance to choose divorce can be attributed to many factors. Divorcees still face social stigmatization, and their chances for remarriage are less than men's. Also, women may risk losing contact with their children, since men are awarded custody in the majority of divorces.