Another Cancer of Society
Are You Aware That This Can Be Yours?
Ham,Bo-mi , Lee, Yoon-jung, email@example.com , firstname.lastname@example.org
등록일: 2010-09-10 오전 12:38:36
Recentrly, it is not unusual to see tragic sex crimes in Korea. What is worse, they are occuring more frequently, severely, and more haphazardly. This means that anyone can be targeted for sexual assault. Unfortunately, most people have ignored the fact that they might be a victim and think that this crime as a anyone else's problem. To cope with this, we need to know more about the problem, find the reason behind it, and think about the solution .
The controversy over sexual abuse burst out last year when a 9-year-old girl was found raped and thrown in a toilet, with seriously damaged genitals and permanent destruction of her large intestine and anus. This shocking news struck the entire country, and people started to recognize the seriousness of the sexual abuse problem.
However, sexual crime itself was not the only issue. What made people worry was the small penalty given to the criminal. Although there was strong public demand to make the identity of sex offender known, the authorities said that this would be a violation of human rights.
Even when we consider the existing sex crimes, there are more terrible and severe cases of sexual crimes happening every day, regardless of age and social status.
As these sexual crimes grow into a major social issue, many media and organizations are voicing their own concerns, comparing punishments in Korea with other countries’ penalties . However, some people remain skeptical , saying some of these countermeasures do not fit our circumstances because they may cause serious side effects while others say that the criminals deserve to be punished and taking responsibility for what they have done.
Given the fact that the sex crimes are rarely reported, because of the social attention which make victims take all the damages for their whole life time, this controversy does not look as if it will be settled easily.
■ A Focus on Sex Offences in Korea
According to the report by Ministry of Health and Welfare, analyzing the sentences of the 142 juvenile sex offenders registered in 2008, a stay of execution was given to 61.3% (87 people), and a monetary penalty was levied from 4.9% (7 people). This means that the percentage of offenders imprisoned was only 33.8% (48 people), indicating that the court has tended to treat sex crimes lightly up to now. It is said that sex offenses have been constantly increasing by 40% from 2005 to 2009 by the National Police. What is striking is that half of the child sex offenders are more likely to re-offend, while the total reoccurrence rate of sex crimes is 37% a year. The Ministry of Health and Welfare collated 17,408 child sex crime convictions from 2001 to 2007 and found that the age of the child victims is gradually becoming lower, and the percentage of victims under 13 has continuously increased from 27% to 32.7%. It also revealed that rape and sexual molestation increased from 18.5% to 20.9%, and from 19.4% to 35%, respectively.
[box] Other Nations : Stringent to Sex Crime
Other developed countries take a stricter view of sex offences, cracking down on sexual assaults, especially if they are committed against children and adolescents. England enacted a Sexual Offense Act in 2003 and suggested a criterion for treating the various forms of sexual assaults. The lightest ruling on the crime against children under 13 is at least eight years in prison, and additional sentences are levied on sexual crimes in which any kind of threat and coercion is involved, and alcohol or drugs are employed. The highest sentence for sexual assault in the U.S. is life imprisonment. If the victim is under 16, severe punishment is meted out to the criminal, and if the victim is under 12, the law is interpreted in the most severe degree possible. U.S. enforces Megan’s Law, which deals with released criminals who commit sexual assault again on teenagers, allows information of registered sex offenders to be made available to the public. Particularly, in Texas, a signboard saying 'Sex offender lives here' is erected in front of the offender's house. France has also established guidelines regarding sentencing sex offenders - 20 years in prison for offences against children aged less than 15, and 15 years for general kinds of rape.
■ How Much Do You Know About the Aftereffects of Sex Offenses?
Sexual violence causes victims to undergo both physical and psychological trauma, which cannot be cured easily and lasts permanently. The victims often suffer from terrible nightmares for their whole life, if not treated in time. In particular, in the case of sexual assault targeted at children, the aftereffects are immense and can last for a long time. These after effects vary, according to the level of abuse and the attitude of others. For instance, holding the victims accountable for the accident should be strictly avoided, because this causes them even more pain and prevents them from getting over the trauma.
Aftereffects come in various forms. Victims suffer from psychological problems like anxiety, a feeling of helplessness, depression, and rage, and they often experience social phobia and hypersensitivity, through post-traumatic stress disorder. Dissociative amnesia, temporary memory loss, is also possible along with physical symptoms like gastroenteric trouble and eating disorders. In extreme cases, child victims can develop a permanent disorder in genital and evacuating functions as in the Jo, Du-sun case. Victims can even also become self-destructive, injuring themselves or taking drugs. Furthermore, social repercussions can include resignation, moving, and taking a leave of absence from school. Even though they are victims, they frequently feel forced to leave their jobs or residences or take some time off from school. Victims are inclined to cover up the incidents and try to forget the assault. However, repression makes the mental scar deeper and deeper. It is highly advisable for victims to seek counsel with experts.
■ Relevant Factors
▶ Location and Time of the Crimes
The National Police analyzed where and when sex crimes are most likely to take place. The result indicates that the top 3 crime locations are he victim's house (21.8%), inns (21%), and the assailant's house (15.8%). Other likely locations are residential areas, restaurants, parks, playgrounds, and schools. When it comes to the sex crimes committed to child, offences occurred in the victim's house (12.8%), the joint area of both the assailant and the victim (11.2%), inside a car (11.2%), and in an inn (10.4%). That is, most offenses were committed in a house.
As for the time of the crime, 54.7% of crimes against children, 44.9% of crimes against elementary school students, and 24.3% of crimes against middle school students occur from noon to 6 p.m.. In the cases of female adults and high school students, however, the timing is different. 25.2% of crimes against high school students, 27% of crimes against university students, and 30.2% of crimes against adults, occur at early dawn (from midnight to 3 a.m.).
▶ the Sex Offenders
About 50% of the assailants are strangers, but acquaintances like friends, neighbors, and relatives amount to about 30% of the total crimes. The younger the victims are, the more likely the criminals are to be acquaintances. In the case of the preschooler, strangers are primarily followed by neighbors (17.6%) and relatives within three degrees of kinship (13.1%), while for elementary school children, the figures are 12.8% and 9.7%. The age group of sex offenders is also getting younger. The rate of adolescent offenders is on the rise. 79.7% of all assailants are adults, but the proportion of middle and high school students has increased by 1.9% and by 2.5% respectively compared to the figures in 2006. Joint crime among peers is more prevalent than in adults, indicating that it is important to control juvenile delinquents and to crack down on group sexual assaults.
[box] Types of Adolescent Sex Offenders
Adolescent sex offenders are divided into three types : attachment, violence, and tool. Sex offenders of the attachment type lure the kids with a present and threaten them, so that they can grope their private parts. Sex offenders of the violence type generally horrify the children through hostile assault with deadly weapons or beating. Even after the sexual offence, they blackmail the victim constantly. Sex offenders of the tool type use the child as a tool to satisfy their sexual urge by forcing her to touch their sex organ, and they even also demand money after the crime.
■ What Remedy is Being Enforced or Being Planned?
▶ Electronic Anklet System (Electronic Tagging)
Korea enforced an Electronic Anklet System to prevent recurrence of sex crimes, in September 1, 2008. This system monitors the wearer's position and condition using a location-tracking electronic device. A judge in New Mexico, America, was inspired by a location-tracking device a spider-man cartoon, and he was the first to require an ex-convict to wear an electronic anklet. Korea, 44 states of U.S., England, and some other countries are currently trying this system, and Taiwan, Japan, and Australia are also thinking of introducing similar system. Sex offenders with electronics anklet always have to carry a terminal-shaped cellular phone. If the distance between anklet and the terminal is more than 1m, a warning alarm is set off at the central control centers, and the probation officer receives a text message. This system can track the wearer's location for 24 hours. If the wearer enters a danger zone like a school, which is a main target for sex offences, or if the anklet is turned off, this fact is notified to the central control centers.
In Korea, this system is revised in July, 2010. Under the new system, offenders on probation have to be undertaken constant survey and in-depth supervision, and they must reside in a restricted area, if they have no dwelling. This revision also applies retroactively to the past offenders. However, there is evidence that some sex offenders commit second convictions after taking the anklet off, and the system entails enormous costs. Each electronic anklet costs 1,720,000 Won, and at least one management officer is needed to oversee 20 wearers.
▶ Disclosing the Identities of Sex Offenders
By the Ministry of Gender, 10 identities, including the sex offenders' pictures, have been released on the internet. The details include name, age, address, height and weight, the name of the crime, and the sentence. Korea is only the second country to take this action in the world, following America. America has already enforced this rule since 1996, and they have offered general information since 2009. America applies the rule to all sex offenders, but Korea has limited this rule to offenders sentenced to a stay of execution. Identities are opened to the public for 10 years, and in the case of long prison sentence, the identities go public after the term of imprisonment is completed. You can check the identities of sex offenders and the national distribution of sex offenders at www.sexoffender.go.kr. Though there are only a few sex offenders’ identities available at present, from this September you can find the identities of 401 sex offenders from June 30, 2006 to 2009.
▶ Chemical Castration
This involves injecting a female hormone or drug into the criminals for curbing the sex drive. Physical castration, eliminating a male penis or testicle, is also considered very effective for the prevention of sex crimes. However, chemical castration is common, because physical castration cannot be reversed. In 1996, California applied this method to sex offenders who assaulted children under 13, and 10 other states, including Louisiana, Montana, Wisconsin, Georgia, Florida, and Colorado, and Canada have followed, and Poland has started this for child sex crime offenders this year. Denmark is enforcing both physical and chemical castration, and Germany is also enforcing physical castration for offenders who show an extreme sex drive after thorough medical and legal review. In addition, Texas America, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Norway, and Finland carry out physical castration. In Korea, a chemical castration law will be begin around July, 2011. The targets of this law will be those over 19 who have sexual perversion and sexually assault the children under 16. However, this is not a perfect solution because it is only effective when the criminals are under the influence of the drug. It also has another problem if offenders run away or refuse to use the drugs. Above all, the cost is prohibitive - about 6,000,000~7,000,000 Won for each person.
Solutions for the future
■ More Realistic and Fundamental Measures Should Be Taken
Although there have been many countermeasures to combat sexual crime, we have not felt much improvement yet. This may indicate that the pre-countermeasures are not suitable and are limited in their application . Therefore, in the future, there should be more realistic and fundamental efforts considering our circumstances, not only in the short-term but also in the long-term . We need two essential measures if we are to wipe out the sex crime in our country. One is from authorities or organizations and the other is from ourselves .
Considering that over 50 percent of the perpetrators of sex crimes are re-offenders, preventive measures are most important and urgent. Because of this, 'Social safety net' needs to be expanded. Sex education in schools is at most 10 hours per year, which is totally insufficient compared with other advanced countries. As a result, when somebody suffers approaching danger, they do not know how to take emergency measures to avoid the problem. Therefore, the authorities should enforce early sex education and promote self-defense education so that anyone can understand and get through the emergency situations. On top of that, we need to be aware that an unhappy childhood can lead to cruel crimes in the future. As double income parents are becoming more common, kids are more likely to be alone and to be exposed to the danger of sexual crimes. To prevent this, the government should constantly support social networks such as 'Local child centers' or ' After- school academies.'
In addition, a rehabilitation program must be accompanied with other social policies. A more detailed program is required to be classified according to the pattern of crimes. Psychotherapy and medication should be added, too.
Finally, what can we do? Besides supporting social networks, we must pay attention to what is going on around us. It is sad that many people do not care about things irrelevant to themselves. However, this kind of attitude eventually generates devastating sexual crimes. Also, our tendency which to blame the victims of the crime should be corrected that has caused very low rate of reporting the offences. Therefore, we need to be aware of the seriousness of sex crimes and try not to hurt the victims through unpleasant words of actions. Small differences would be come out from our own little effort. Once we change, the future would be bright as a 'Butterfly effect.'
Interview with the Sexual Abuse Counseling Center of Korea
1. Many people are frightened by the increasingly severe and frequent sex crimes recently. What is the main reason for the increase of these crimes?
- It is true that sex crimes reports seems much increased nowadays. This makes people think that there are more crimes occurring than there really are. The primary cause of sex crimes stems from a cultural background where violence and gender discrimination are prevalent. Considering the fact that a huge percentage of sex offenders are usually senior army personnel, teachers, fathers, and men, the predominant form of sexual abuse can be seen as imposition of violence on the weak by the strong. Therefore, the hierarchical social system and gender discrimination is the biggest cause of the sex crimes.
2. What kind of measures are you taking towards the prevention of sexual abuse and what is the solution for a better future?
- Basically, we are providing legal and psychological support for the victims and monitoring the laws related to sex crimes. In addition, we are giving prevention lectures to r kids, teachers, and parents. We also intend to publish related books in the future .
3. How can we prevent sex crimes in everyday life?
- In the long-term , we need to redefine the concept of sexual abuse and raise public awareness. When someone is in a dangerous situation, the most important thing is to be brave enough to get through the situation. In contrast to boys, girls are usually brought up without much physical training in terms of protecting themselves. Therefore, they are helpless when faced with an urgent situation. Therefore, being strong maybe the first step for getting through the bad situation. It may include pre-simulation activities, screaming out and so on. If possible, it would be good to have a self-defense tool for your own.
4. Are there any common misperceptions about sex crimes ?
- Of course, there are lots of myths about sex crimes in our society. In fact, such ideas usually make victims hard to report their abuse or how to deal with the crimes. Among these, one of the prevailing biases is that the criminal must be a psychopath with a mental disorder. However, the fact is 70 percent of assailants are normal people. As I said above, sexual abuse should not be treated as a mental disorder.
© The KNU Times