Experts call for focus on sexual crime victims

  • Published : Mar 30, 2010 - 12:58
  • Updated : Mar 30, 2010 - 12:58

The shocking child rape case revealed to the public in September pushed the entire Korean society to the round table to discuss measures against sexual crimes, especially those against children. However, few among the suggested solutions have their focus on the victim, some experts say.
Last December, a 57-year-old man called Cho Doo-soon raped an 8-year-old girl alias Na-young and permanently disabled the girl. The abuse not only damaged her sexual organs but also caused a deathly intestine rupture which means she has to live the rest of her life with a device that replaces her missing organ.
He was sentenced by the Supreme Court in late September to 12 years in jail and three years of having his personal information revealed.
The punishment was largely criticized as being too lenient on the brutal child abuser and caused investigators, legal circles, and the government to tighten up the grasp over the regulation of sexual offenders.
The Justice Ministry submitted the DNA information bill to the National Assembly last month to allow investigators to gather and manage the genetic information of felons, including sexual offenders.
Courts started to hand down stricter punishment on sexual offenders and drunk criminals.
President Lee Myung-bak also expressed his worries about the damage caused and urged all government departments to support sexual crime victims.
The Supreme Court criminal sentence guideline committee set to reinforce the judging standards on sexual offenders, especially to prevent criminals from seeking a drunk exemption.
Despite all the commotion and worries, however, the victimized girl is not being sufficiently attended to, said experts.
"The suffering girl`s recovery and welfare should have been the top priority in this issue," said Shin Eui-jin, psychiatrist in charge of Na-young`s therapy. "It took her two months after the tragic incident to come for counseling therapy, because no one -- police, prosecutors, hospitals -- simply offered such information or advice to her family."
The girl`s father sought help in the ministry-run support center for children sexual victims and until then, the child was helpless against the follow-up stress caused by the case investigation, she said.
"Investigation or not, the prosecutors and doctors who were involved in the case should first of all have thought of protecting the girl from further shock," she said.
Na-young`s family recently decided to file a suit against the government for inflicting further damages on her by asking repeated questions about the crime.
Sexual crime experts, including Shin, suggest that doctors, judges, and investigators need to be educated on the care of sexual crime victims.
Some pointed out that the qualification test including the national bar exam and the national medical exam do not require any sections on such specific issues.
"The so-called experts often lack the expertise and knowledge, especially in dealing with delicate issues such as child sexual crime victims," Shin said.
Also, sexual crime victims are left with little support and information after the crime, said others.
"Ordinary people have little access to the government-run relief centers and are short of expert manpower," said an official of the Korean Sexual Violence Relief Center.
Na-young`s family bears as well the financial costs required for additional surgeries and the management of her artificial organ, but is now only reliant on a limited and unstable amount of funds offered by the government and the citizens.


By Bae Hyun-jung