Every term, newspaper accounts deal with sexual assault, occurring among university students. Lately, there was an attempted murder that a male student tried to rape a female student in the clubroom. In the university campus, many students spend much time naturally while joining departmental events and club activities so that they cannot help facing awkward situations against each other. For example, several male students, who had attended trip, sexually assaulted a drunken female student. Also, we can sometimes witness people making unnecessary physical contacts while drinking, taking pictures of someone’s body in the restrooms, or secretly trespassing women’s dormitory at night.
In general, the words associated with sexual assault are “sexual violation,” “sexual molestation,” or “sexual harassment,” but the exact classification of these words is quite vague. As the phraseology in criminal law, “sexual violence” signifies rape, which means having sexual relations without partner’s agreement with violence or threat. On the contrary, the sexual molestation means every bit of physical contact making a person sexually humiliated, and sexual harassment has more expansive definition that includes words or action causing sexual humiliation. However, it is important to keep in mind that the victims of sexual assault are not limited to women but “people,” including men, are the object of it.
Sexual violation and sexual molestation are regulated as a crime of rape and indecent act by force. Also, criminal penalties of these are specified in criminal law. The punishment of sexual violence is imprisonment for a limited term over three years. If someone commits an indecent act by force, the person can be imposed a penalty of ten-year imprisonment, 15 million-won fine, or less.
Though, since sexual harassment is not defined as a crime in criminal law, it cannot be the object of criminal penalty. Instead, “Equal Employment Opportunity and Work Family Balance Assistance Act” contains the definition of sexual harassment in workplace. This law can be applied in this case. If someone delivers sexually humiliated words, audio, pictures, or videos to someone through communication media, penalty of two-year imprisonment or five million-won fine, in maximum, will be imposed according to the “Act on Special Cases concerning the Punishment of Sexual Crimes of Victims.”
Moreover, the victims can also sue to National Human Rights Commission of Korea or go to the court against the assailant. One thing to keep in mind is that it became possible to punish criminals of sexual assault thanks to the recent law revision even though the victim drops charges or arranges with the assailant.
Then, how can we cope with such sexual crimes? If a student encounters criminal damage, he or she is able to consider the method of solving the matter such as visiting counseling centers in school and going through judicial proceedings. The student should choose proper solution considering the circumstances. Although it is important to handle it after the crime occurs, preventing the matter itself is more significant. Emphasized by Routine Activity theory of criminology, three conditions that should be fulfilled to make crime occur are potential criminal, suitable target, and absence of surveillant.
Recently, according to the survey by an integrated center supporting the victims of sexual assault, potential criminals are usually acquaintances, taking larger portion than that of strangers. Therefore, students should remember to pay attention not to be the target of the crime and refrain from passing by unfamiliar or unusual places.
Lee Chang-bae firstname.lastname@example.org
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