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August 22, 2017

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It's time to move on from Lin Yi-han to the rest of society

Two weeks on and news surrounding the death of young novelist Lin Yi-han have yet to cool down. Social media has turned into a battlefield where netizens comment, argue, and debate the rights and wrongs of nearly all parties involved: the Chinese literature cram-school tutor who allegedly seduced the novelist into sexual relations; public figures who have spoken up for or against him; and even Lin's parents, who are under a state investigation for withholding the secret of her alleged rape for the past eight or nine years and possibly playing a role in her suicide last month.

Lin herself is at the center of it all, with curious onlookers combing through her novel and debating questions like what she had wanted out of the book, how much of her writing reflected real life, whether she had wanted the world to probe into the details of her narrative, and whether she had truly loved the abusive tutor at the novel's heart.

Also up for debate is whether frenzied attention from mainstream society, government agencies, to politicians and legislators were a disgrace to the novelist rather than a delivery of justice.

But the answers to these questions should at this point be less of a priority for us.

What Taiwan's media, politicians, and more importantly its public should be concerned about most right now is what we want from society and what we can do to achieve it.

A sexual assault case involving a 7-year-old victim late March shocked the country when the court sentenced the perpetrator to just four years in prison when the maximum sentence for sexual assault against a minor under 14 years old is 10 years.

In the verdict, the judge wrote that the sexual relation was "consensual" and that therefore the Civil Code's Article 228 applied. The article stipulates that the maximum sentence is five years in prison in cases where the abuser receives the victim's consent by means of seduction or authority.

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