I have been in shock in the past week and could hardly sleep at night in thinking about her. She has been on my mind every moment since I heard the news.
She is my dearest high school home-class teacher. She was the most important person to me in my teen years and helped me in forming an independent personality. She opened up our entire class's mind (and many more people's, whose lives have been touched by her) and strongly pushed us to question authority and our apparent "defined realities".
There is no word that can express my sadness. I know that Ms. Pong would not like for me, or any one of her students and followers, to be again the victims of this tragic event. She is the strongest fighter I know.
I want to share my deepest love and respect for her with all the sisters around the world.
We are deeply saddened to express our sorry of the tragic death of a leading feminist activist in Taiwan, Winnie Wan-ru Pong, the director of Department for Women Development in Democratic Progressive Party. The result of a rape and murder, her body with thirty five stab wounds, was found two days after her missing.
Ms. Wan-ru Pong, 47, had devoted most of her life to women's movement in Taiwan. She used to be the general secretary of Awakening, the first feminist organization in Taiwan, in the year 1988 to 1989. She was also the founder and member of the board of directors in several distinguished feminist grass-root organizations, including Housewives Association (zhu3-fu4-lian2-mong2), Foundation for Women Rescue (fu4-nu3-jiu4-yuan2-yi1-jin1-huei4), and Late-Spring Association (wan3-qing2-xie2-huei4). In her struggle to improve women's rights, she then identified the main impediments for Taiwan women movement as having to do with a politically powerless status of women. For that reason, she relocated herself into an unfamiliar political domain by joining the DPP and by presiding over the Department of Women Development three years ago.
Our heart's are full of rage and sadness as we think of her struggle with the rapist and killer. And the irony that she, as a foremost fighter for women's rights, became a victim of rape, the most demeaning form of crime against women, further deepens our sorrow and pain. As women, we feel her death symbolized the violation of bodies of all the women.
We are aware that many rapes and murders go unreported, unpublicized in cities throughout our beloved country. There seems to be no safe place for women. We want to be safe in our daily lives and safety means preventing violence, especially violence against women. The subject of sexual violence is always women, and this fact deeply affects the way women behave, perceive, and live. Yet only women's awareness alone cannot resist this crime. It is time for our whole society to work together to fight against violence against women. It is also time for us to examine our society where men are taught and encouraged to be sexually aggressive. Here, we want to remind all those who are grieving this tragic incident: Sexual assault is not simply a personal or individual act. It is socialized behavior. If we don't take action to change our society and our own attitude, we are afraid there will be another female victim, as Wan-ru, who can't continue to pursue her dream, another husband who loses his beloved wife, and more children who lose their caring mother.
We should show our care, our concern, our love. We should also show our power, our strength, and our determination. Here, we call people not only to pressure our government to take action to offer women a safer environment but also to examine the way how our society encourage men to be sexually aggressive and violent. The loss cannot be forgotten; We can't let her die in silence. The best way to commemorate our sister Wan-ru, is to continue to pursue her dream. Therefore, we urge people to support the proposal initiated by our friends to establish the Women's Right Day (Wan-Ru Memorial Day) on the last Sunday of every November. Her fight for women's rights should be held in memory to inspire each of us to continue the dream of gender equality in Taiwan.
1996 Taiwan Women Camp Committee
(Thanks for Yawen Cheng's posting)
(Thanks for Jim-qui Liao and Ming-jun Gu's help in writing and gathering Wan-ru's biography)