Three Muslims from Indonesia were "distraught and afraid" after their boss at a suburban Taipei factory forced them to eat pork over a seven-month period or face punishment, a Taiwan rights group said today.
Taipei prosecutors indicted Chang Wen-lin, the owner of Shin Hua Hang Fashion Co, on April 26 for forcing the three women to consume pork during their September 2008 to April 2009 employment.
In their indictment the prosecutors said Chang believed the meat "would give the women more stamina for work" and threatened to take money out of their salaries if they did not eat it.
Islam forbids its adherents from consuming pork because it regards pigs as unclean.
Susan Chen, of the Taiwan International Workers Association, said her organisation cared for the three women for three to four months beginning in April 2009 after they filed a complaint with Taipei county authorities and were removed from the factory by labour rights officials.
"They were distraught and afraid when they came to our shelter, partly because they thought they might be sent home," Ms Chen said. "They still showed a lot of fear when they met their employer again for the first time after their rescue during a meeting to discuss employment disputes."
Chang was not immediately available for comment.
Ms Chen identified the women as Tarsinah, Suswati and Wasilah. She said they were now working at new jobs in Taiwan and did not want to comment on the case because they feared it could endanger their employment.
Ms Chen said Chang originally hired the women as carers, but they were ordered to work from 7am to 11pm in his factory after they arrived in Taiwan. She said they were paid an average salary of 1,370 New Taiwan dollars (€32) per month - far less than the minimum wage.
Taiwan now employs about 350,000 foreign labourers, many from Indonesia, the Philippines and Vietnam. Most work as carers or as factory and construction labourers.
The US State Department said in its 2009 Human Rights Report that abuse of foreign workers remains a serious problem in Taiwan.
It said the workers are often reluctant to report employer abuse because they fear it could endanger their employment and compromise their efforts to pay back broker employment fees, which can amount to as much as 10,000 dollars (€7,730).
This is shocking. Nobody should be forced to eat something that they don't want to, for whatever reason. I am a vegetarian and if an employer tried to force me to eat meat or sack me, I would seek legal advice...but of course, these poor people were not protected because of poor human rights.
Hi friend Polly C
I agree with you.
Might be the boss is a fanatic Skeptic; otherwise what he would gain from such an endeavor.
I am an Ahmadi peaceful Muslim
From what I read in the original post, it's because the boss claimed that it would give the women (Muslims) more stamina for when they work. It may have not had anything to do with religion or anti-religion from the boss's standpoint.
Anyhow, people shouldn't be forced to eat or drink what they don't want to.
I know, Origin, but as I questioned earlier, why pork? As far as I know, pork offers nothing special that cannot be obtained from other meats amd other foods. Basically, the employer was not respecting the rights of the three women to eat as they choose and really it does not make any difference whether it is on religious grounds or any other grounds. I am vegetarian and I would not eat it either, but as I live in a country where my rights are respected I know I will never have to.
It could be that pork is readily available as well as very cheap there? I know that where I live pork is far cheaper than seafood (I live in the middle of the US), and it could be similar there.
Exactly. It's not a question of what meat it was; NO ONE should be forced into eating (or anything else for that matter) against their will. However, in this particular case, being as they were muslims, its more than that. It's actually akin to psychological abuse - seeing as it lasted for 8 months - and totally condemnable. They ought to take legal action against this man, but I'm afraid no one will.
I agree wikth you totally. This is a double infringment of human rights - firstly it infringes the right to freely exercise one's religion, and secondly it infringes the right to personal dignity.
The price and nutritional value of pork is utterly irrelevant in this case.
It's funny, then it's not funny in a way, if they were forced to eat food they liked then there would be no problems whatsoever.
I would still think it a problem - the very act of someone trying to force a certain food on me, whether I liked the food or not,would make me angry...if that makes sense.
Yeah I understand, it's like doing something you don't want to do, like the dishes, but you know you have to or else I have to go in the dog kennel!
I think this is really about workers rights - people need to have access to help and support in the work place
Why try to force them to eat pork, anyway? What is the difference between pork and other meats? Not that I eat meat, but I didn't think pork had any special nutrition about it.
Yes, it's a fairly sad comment on the state of labour conditions internationall.
The fact that the employer objectified his employees ("assets") enough to intervene in thier diet ("fuel")for the purposes of increasing their output speaks volumes about the inhumanity of the global labour system.
As for the actual nutritional benefits of pork over other meats...I don't really have any idea - does anyone have any information about that? It's possible that pork was the most readily available meat at the time...
But, where does the responsibility lie for conditions like this? With those who nourish a market devoid of conscience? Or with those of us who create the demand?
I think it's a mix of both, but in reality - if this is something we find disturbing - we need to be way more conscious of our own purchasing decisions.
I quite agree with your points about being conscious over what we buy, for everyone deserves good working conditions and it is something I feel quite strongly about. Recently here in the UK there have been many programmes highlighting working conditions for people in places like India, China and Africa. It is a real eye opener and much of the fault seems to lie with big companies (western companies) putting pressure on these factories to output much more than is possible for a very low price.
However, try to buy your child a toy, or yourself an electronic gadget and a lot of the time it is almost impossible to find that item made in any other place. Not only that, but not purchasing it at all means that those workers, who really need the job, may end up out of work altogether.
Of course, this is rather off the topic off the pork....sorry...
What the Taipei boss did was in breach of their rights and in breach of their religious beliefs. The boss could be said to arguably taken advantage of their religious beliefs, but the women have to prove that their jobs would be in jeopardy, and that they had truly no choice. No one can intimidate you without your permission. Did they permit at some point?
He might have gotten more from his workers if he just paid them more. We all know Taiwan is a sweatbox, and lots of desperate Asians go there to find work. And how much of that work day is overtime? What is the official working week in Taiwan? You can't have settlements made till those things are sorted out. Is there any laws governing this? I am not up on work laws of this country. Will more Muslims travel to Taiwan now as they sit reading this? No. Does this sound like a good advertisement to come and work there? I bet if they formed their own protected society union group, they would not be pushed around so much. That might create other problems, however. Suddenly a small problem might turn into a big problem. This is pure religious intolerance.
The argument about the pork giving them more energy is bullcrap. So would plenty of other foods that Muslims enjoy eating. But then so would an energy bar or steroids. Why pork? Sounds like the boss chose Pork for other obvious reasons. He had religious reasons of his own, perhaps? He is someone with a grudge perhaps?
Wonder will Indonesia send an official to Taiwan to complain and tell Taiwan to show Indonesian workers and women some damn respect? Will the Boss get taken into a room and get a grilling or the sack from the company owners, who are now reading all about themselves in the press?
I'd love to be the fly on the wall in that room to hear that conversation.
Yep, this is wrong. I have always wondered, has anyone ever researched if there was some sort of swine flu or something around the time this belief of pork was written? Was it implemented into religion to stop the spread of disease? Always been curious about that.
I just cant imagine the suffering these people went through - its not good enough in a 'modern' world
Though my personal thought on this subject matter, is much different than my intellectual thought, it is what it is. His employment. His business. You wanna work there, you have to work there, you need to work there- well then buck up and eat the freakin' pork. Those women had a conscience right to say no and quit. They could have chosen to go hungry instead. It was their choice. I would side with the employer. His site, his business, his money. Eat the freakin' pork, or starve. It was their choice.
Yes, jobs are plentiful. Especially for foriegners everywhere.
I think Americans forget that countries like China, Italy, India, etc... were not founded on the ideals of freedom. Quite opposite really.
My point. Less freedoms there, these women have less chances at getting work. Forcing anyone to eat anything, is like making you eat arsnic just to see if it really is bad for you. Anywhere.
Very true. We all have the individual right to stand up and say no. No matter what is involved. The end result could be that you are dead or without a job- but still the answer could have been no. They chose to eat the pork. Need I say more? Their case is pointless, and most disputable. It is not an open and shut case as many Americans, might think it is. Like I said earlier, I favor the businessman.
Why don't we discuss the reason behind Islam considering pork haram.
And I believe you do not have the right to force a food upon anyone.
So yes, if it happened it should be condemned.
This situation is an example of a miserable fact. Is their employer human? I believe not coz he's not behaving like one. I understand Muslims do not eat pork, why not respect that? There are other meat or food for that matter which will give you enough energy for a day's work if that's the employer's shallow reason. And how could he let these ladies work over 15 hours a day?
They may have eaten that pork, but they have no other choice. May be afraid to be deported and get back to their country broke.
We should understand how some people work hard to other countries and need to help their families back home. They face constant struggle of longing and adjusting to the new environment. Nobody has the right to abuse them, in any way.
While this all may be true, it does not change a thing. He was within his right as a businessman in India. Case closed.
You know alot of BS stories are started in muslim countries just to get non-muslims in trouble.
So?... I will take it for what it is worth. He didn't kill them or sell them into salavery... so?....
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