The Korea Herald


Post-rape care leaves some women feeling victimized

By Korea Herald

Published : Nov. 13, 2011 - 19:42

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Poor communication between centers and hospitals leads to frustration

One-Stop Centers throughout the country provide basic emergency care for female victims of sexual violence, but some believe the system lacks compassion and efficiency.

The centers provide several forms of care including counseling, medical, police and legal assistance.

Before the centers were first established in 2005, victims of sexual violence had to visit several facilities separately to receive full care.

And given that the Korea Institute of Criminology reports 20 to 30 percent of all women here experience sexual violence at least once in their life, such centers are a necessity.

However, according to sources, the level of care varies depending on the center.

According to a police official who declined to be named, police officers acknowledge that some centers are better than others, as far as care and promptness in working with the police to secure good evidence.

The confidant of a 16-year-old female victim of sexual violence told The Korea Herald that the center had left her feeling angry and frustrated, and felt it failed to treat them with compassion.

“It felt like they were looking at us more like we were a case, rather than victims,” said the source, who accompanied the female teen, who has a learning disability.

The victim waited two-and-a-half hours for four forms of care that took less than 20 minutes in total.

They had visited the center after the teen was raped on about 10 separate occasions by a man she met on an online chat site.

Her companion said she was also frustrated about the lack of communication between center and hospital staff.

“A doctor interviewing us asked if the center staff gave us a document, but when I told him that I didn’t receive one and was simply told to get the blood test, the doctor became irritated and complained to us about the center.”

The source also said that they were given conflicting information by night and day shift staff, which also led to a three-hour appointment delay.

During the span of nearly two weeks of care at the center, the teen felt like she was victimized again.

According to center staff and Ministry of Gender Equality & Family officials, the level of care was no different from that of any other center or victim.

The center said they usually had a staff member accompany victims, but did not always do so when a third party such as a parent or friend was with them.

The center said that appointments for examinations and procedures are made to accommodate the hospital’s schedule, when asked about the delay in scheduling.

Staff said that everything was done according to procedure.

And staff at other centers said that unless there is a life-threatening issue or the need for specialized equipment, like X-rays, the victim never has to leave the center to receive full care.

Despite having come a long way over the past 30 years, post-rape care for victims has even further to go.

Run in conjunction with the Gender Ministry and the National Police Agency, there are 21 centers operating around the clock throughout the country.

Within the first half of this year, the centers, modeled on U.S. Rape Crisis Centers, provided care to 6,357 victims of domestic and sexual violence, among other forms.

Standard services offered by Rape Crisis Centers include victim advocacy and accompaniment services during medical examinations, according to a 2001 medical protocol for examination of sexual assault and child abuse victims in California.

“The role of the advocate is to provide emotional support to the patient, to explain and clarify procedures, to work with family members in crisis, and to advocate on behalf of the patient to ensure that prompt, considerate care is provided.”

According to Byun Hea-joung, a professor at the Counseling Center for Gender Equality at Sogang University, there needs to be fundamental monitoring of Korea’s post-rape care system, as she has received similar reports.

Ministry officials said they would look into the One-Stop Service Centers in question.

By Robert Lee (