More than 600 foreign women have been victims of sexual assault in Taiwan over the past six years, the majority of them domestic workers, according to a report, and the government is stepping up efforts to protect them.

The investigatory agency of the Taiwan government has urged various departments to step up efforts to safeguard women’s rights.

Wang Mei-yu, a member of the Control Yuan – one of the five branches of the country’s government – said that between 2012 and February 2018, a total of 633 migrant female workers had been victims of sexual assault, more than 70% of them domestic workers or caregivers, the United Daily News reported.

The real figure was expected to be higher as some victims choose to put up with abuses or run away from their abusive employers because it was difficult for those living-in to report cases or terminate their contracts.

Wang said various government departments should step up efforts to protect migrants’ rights, such as investigating why there were so many sexual assaults, providing better psychotherapy services to the victims and improving police officers’ sensitivity when handling labor dispute cases.

She added that joint cooperation was needed between the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the Ministry of Labor and the National Police Agency to verify every alleged case of sexual abuse, which has also been identified as a popular ‘excuse’ for workers wanting to change contracts.

At the end of last year, the total number of migrant workers in Taiwan was 674,000, including those who came from Indonesia (34%), Vietnam (25%), the Philippines (20%) and Thailand (10%).