South Korea's sentence of sexual assault is lower than that of other countries. In China, sex offenders are given death sentences unconditionally. However, in South Korea the sentences for sex offenders’ crimes are reduced in some cases. For example, when someone commits a sexual crime under the influence of alcohol, the sentence of the crime will be lighter. Many victims have not revealed that they were sexually attacked, because of the fear that the attackers retribute them and the negative attention around them. However, now the victims of Korean sexual violence are making their voices heard because of the Me_too movement and their voices keep spreading. The Me_too movement works to inform the world the world about the seriousness of sexual assault. Sex crime victims often feel guilty about having sex crimes because they think they have done something wrong. However, it is significant that they can sympathize with each other’s pain by forming a coalition between victims due to the Me_too campaign. The Me_too movement also points out that sexual violence is common in various types of working places, and this could raise awareness among others who will work there. So it helps to prevent other sexual crimes from happening. Let's find out about the various sides by looking at the Me_too campaign.
1. What Is the Me_Too Campaign?
a. What Is the Meaning of the Me_too Campaign?
The Me_too campaign means "I've had it happen to me too." What is the object of this sentence? It is a “sex crime.” That means I was sexually abused, too. The campaign is being launched by putting a hashtag #Me_too on social networking sites to report sex crimes were committed. The campaign laments the pain and sympathy on the victims of being exposed to sex crimes. Also, it carries a hashtag #With_you, which means we will support the campaign and be with the victims.
b. How Did It Start?
Seo Ji-Hyun, a prosecutor of the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education, started the Me_too movement in Korea. In January 2018, Seo Ji-hyun wrote a posting on the prosecution's intranet saying she was sexually abused by Ahn Tae-keun, the former director of the Justice Department, at a funeral parlor in 2010. At the time, there were many people at the funeral parlor, but no one said that Ahn Tae-geun sexually assaulted Seo Ji-hyun. After that incidence, Seo Ji-Hyun also claimed that Tae-keun gives her an apology, but not specifically for the sexual assault. Later, he Seo Ji-Hyeon received disadvantages in personnel appointments at work. This led to the spread of the Me_too campaign in Korea. The disclosure of the sexual offenses is continuing in the public arena. There are so many victims who were sexually abused in almost every field, including culture, art, politics, and education. For example, some students posted on their facebook “I was sexually abused by teachers”
2. Me_too Campaign, How Is It Going?
a. Many Attackers Disclosed by Me_too Campaign
The number of offenders exposed by the Me_Too movement is increasing daily. Starting with Ahn Tae-keun who was accused of molesting the prosecutor Seo Ji-hyeon. Other famous cases include theater director Lee Yoon-taek case, actor and professor Cho Min-gi case, actor Cho Jae-hyun case, and actor Oh Dal-soo case which held them all responsible for sexual assault crimes. Many of these men denied the accusations. Cho Min-gi avoided his responsibility for the crime by making the drastic decision to kill himself before the investigation of his crimes was made. Ko Eun, who is a poet, denied the disclosure of his sexual crimes through the British daily newspaper Guardian saying, "I have never committed sex crimes." However, after he denied it the poet Choi Young-mi refuted his claim saying, "His claim is all false." Meanwhile, the former secretary of Ahn Hee-jung, who was a governor of Chungcheongnam-do and received attention as the next presidential candidate, revealed thaat Ahn Hee-jung sexually assaulted her. Ahn Hee-jung said, "I think it was consensual, but I apologize to the victims." Ahn Hee-jung has announced his resignation from his post as a governor of Chungcheongnam-do as a result of the incident. In addition, he was expelled from the Democratic Party. Later, another victim who was sexually abused by Ahn Hee- jung appeared in the news as well.
b. Me_too Campaign Comes from Power-related Sexual Violence
The sexual crimes revealed by this movement are mostly cases of power-related sexual assault. Sexual violence with power means that the perpetrator commits sexual crimes by using his or her own status. It is difficult for the victim to say that he or she was violated and sexually abused by the perpetrator. If they reveal that they have been attacked or sexually assaulted, they have a fear that they will not be able to work in their field again. According to the posting that disclosed the sexual crimes of Lee Yoon-taek, the victim described Lee Yoon-taek as the king of the theater field. The number of her performances in his theater were reduced after she rejected being sexually abused by him. Also, she was blamed by others, saying she did not show up for acting. Sexual assault by using power or status is a really terrible sex crime in that the perpetrator committed the sex crimes knowing that the victims could not resist to them because of the power the perpetrator had. Through this campaign, we can see how those in power are exploiting less powerful people. People who are aware of sexual violence cases in groups are also silenced by the fears of disadvantages when they reveal the sexual violence incidents. There are many cases of sexual violence that become a routine custom. In other words, it is rooted in our society deeply. Also, the silent cartel which people condone authorities’ fault, especially about sexual violence is prevailing in our society. Damage from sexual violence involving power is a very serious problem and we should eradicate it.
c. Me_too Campaign Is Losing Its Essence
The purpose of the movement is to bring awareness of sexual violence by accusing the perpetrators of sexual violence and to prevent such crimes form occurring again. However, the essence of the movement is being unfortunately marred by false-based information campaigns with malicious purposes and ideological disputes
Social networking sites are the main tools of the campaign. Social networking sites lack credibility as they allow anyone to write easily. There is a possibility to disclose spuriously because it points out an offender with anonymity. Such false accusations are spoiling the essence of the campaign. Some people post false information on the internet because they can quickly erase, redirect, or withdraw the account after posting. As a result, the actual victims may be falsely suspected about the facts that they were sexually abused, so the falsehood should not be uploaded on the internet for any reason.
The fact that the Me_too movement is turning into an ideological dispute also harms the intentional purpose of the movement. It means some people concentrate on what political tendency the attackers have and what political parties they belonged to. Some people do not focus on the fact that they committed sexual crimes. When the person who agrees with him or her on politics becomes the perpetrator, he or she keeps quiet. However, they blame the offenders when the person who does not agree with them on politics are disclosed to commit sexual crimes. The movement should not be used to get a political gain. Regardless of the political tendency of offenders, they must pay for their sins. As a result, some people call the movement a political maneuvering and a movement of conspiracy. Such comments, however, ruins the essence of the movement.
3. The Influences of #Me_too Campaign
a. Positive Effects of the Campaign
The Me_too movement has allowed victims to no longer tolerate the fact that they were sexually abused. In addition, in the case of power-related sex crimes, the crime could occur in a chain if the perpetrators retained their power. However, accusing perpetrators could prevent sex crimes which were continually happened. People who will later have power are alarmed and effective in stamping out the traditional culture of sexual violence. Some people are reflective and cautious about their actions. After the campaign, female employers said a superior officer at work who used to sexually molest stopped this. According to National Council on Sexual Violence (NCC), the number of counseling sessions averaged 170 each month last year, but it has been doubled since then after the campaign took place. This campaign focuses on the issues related to sexual crimes, but it also provides clues to solve problems caused by asymmetry in other powers if the movement continues in the right way.
b. The Unexpected Side Effects of the Campaign
The side effects of the Me_too movement are the fence rules, the accusation against the perpetrators' families, people falsely accused, and the condemnation of their victims. Fence rules mean that men avoid meeting women to prevent being put in sexually compromising positions. The Me_too movement has caused this to spread, and such unfair treatment will only lead to other attacks on women. This causes secondary damage, such as a barrier to women's careers. If higher-ranking people are reluctant to talk with women or exclude women at dinners or meetings, the possibility of women being promoted to higher ranking officials will become lower. Some netizens are mean to the criminal’s innocent family. This will make more victims, because the families of the perpetrators are harassed. It is also problematic to make accusations about people who have not been proved to have committed sexual crimes. Public opinion judges the matter of the incidence and makes an accusation against potential offenders, although the public may not be certain whether the crime is true or not since an official trial has not occurred. Even victims may also suffer secondary damage. Some people criticize the victim who took courage and say in regards to the person exposed to the sexual crimes that the victim followed the offender so the victim would be sexually assaulted. The victim volunteered to do it for the benefit. They also ask sensitive questions that could bring shame to the victim as they are related to the fact that the victim was raped.
4. In Order to Create a Society Where Sexual Abuse Is Not Prevalent.
a. The Government’s Measures
The government should come up with measures to deal with the serious damages caused by sexual violence related to power. The government has now proposed supplementary measures to prevent sexual harassment and sexual violence in the public sector with related agencies. The measures enable victims to report to the police that they were sexually abused without fear. Also, the government will conduct investigations for 5,000 agencies to check whether sex crimes occur or not. It will also revise the National Public Officials Act to allow immediate firing in the event of a potential sex crime while in power. It also has several other options to prevent power related sex crimes.
b. What Should We Do?
We should pay attention not only to the Me_too movement among celebrities, but also to the Me_too movement among ordinary people. According to a survey by the Women's Association, 72 percent of victims left companies after sexual harassment at working places. We can encourage the victims to let us know that they were sexually abused. If the victims have courage and reveal that they were sexually abused, society needs to support the victims. If someone suffers from sexual violence, we should not continue to avoid it and sit back. We should also change our attitude towards sexual violence. This is because it makes sexual violence a habit. There also needs to be a change in the social structure in which those who are in power exploit others by educating people with a correct perception of power.
There have been many silences associated with sex crimes in Korean society. However, it the #Me_Too is definitely the first, yet not the last, step towards the development of a better society where the dirty side of our society is now being revealed to the public. Many of the victims have yet to reveal the fact that they were sexually abused. When they can tell the truth about their sexual violence as soon as possible, the society has no more victims of sexual assault. And to do that we need to support Me_too movement actively.< 저작권자 © 중앙헤럴드 무단전재 및 재배포금지 >