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May 26, 2017

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Writer's apparent suicide puts spotlight on rape

Lin Yi-han (林奕含), a 26-year-old who published a bestselling book about a girl raped by her teacher, has died in an apparent suicide, police said Friday.

A note penned by her parents said they believed the cause was not her depression, as widely reported, but her being raped by her cram school teacher eight or nine years ago.

Guerrilla Publishing (游擊文化), the publisher of her bestselling novel, shared the message on Facebook, saying it was not fake and had come directly from her parents.

As of 4:30 p.m. Friday, the note has been shared more than 23,000 times on Facebook.

"The agony Yi-han suffered in the past years was not caused by her major depressive disorder, but the seduction and rape that happened eight or nine years ago," the message read.

Lin's novel is the painful and horrify narrative of a teenaged girl being seduced into having sexual intercourse with her cram school teacher.

The book was not fiction but a true reflection of her own story, her parents wrote. Published in February, the book has already gone into its fifth printing.

The message triggered a wave of condemnation against the teacher, with several Facebook users vowing to track him down.

The incident has drawn public attention to flaws in Taiwan's education system, incomprehensive laws on sexual assault and insufficient medical treatment and assistance for those with mental disorders.

'Seduction and rape'

The Criminal Code stipulates that an adult having sexual intercourse with an underage teenager, with or without their consent, constitutes rape. The age of consent for sexual intercourse is 16.

Yang Shu-huei (楊淑惠), an attorney, said that if Lin had been under 16 years old at the time of the rapes, the cram school teacher would face a maximum of seven years in prison.

If not, the parents must present enough evidence to prove that Lin had been forced into having sexual intercourse or threatened in any way in order to bring the teacher to justice.

Taiwan's Mental Health Budget

This year, the government will spend only NT$22.1 per person on mental health-related resources and assistance, according to a John Tung Foundation (董氏基金會) report published earlier this month.

Yeh Ya-shin (葉雅馨), director of the John Tung Foundation's mental health center, said the Control Yuan had ordered the Ministry of Health and Welfare to earmark more funds and resources for mental health in 2014, because the amount spent per person was only half the international average.

But the budget for mental health has only continued to decrease over the past few years, Yeh said.

In 2015, the government spent approximately NT$23.4 per person for mental health, down from NT$26.51 in 2014.

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