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Seoul women’s centers report counseling cases double

The number of victims seeking counseling at women’s support centers has seen a large increase over the years, but some centers have closed because of funding problems.

According to the Seoul Metropolitan Government on Monday, the number of women seeking counseling for domestic violence and sexual assault has doubled from 40,208 in 2005 to 90,197 in 2010.

While those seeking counseling for sexual violence rose from 19,065 to 23,956. Domestic violence counseling has rocketed over the same period from 8,117 cases to 60,608.

“We are seeing the effects of aggressive public education as people are more aware of the Women’s Emergency Hotline and other counseling services,” said one city official whose name was undisclosed to the media.

However, despite the growing number of victims seeking help, the number of centers has seen a decline.

After a rise in Seoul’s women support centers to 77 in 2007, the number steadily decreased to 62 in 2010. Centers for domestic abuse victims saw a decline from 48 in 2007 to 36 in 2010.

“There are more centers that cannot receive funding that do, and right now there are about 20 centers that receive government funding,” said another city official.

“We decided that we need at least one center per district, so we have asked for more funds from the Ministry of Gender Equality & Family, but it’s not easy.”

Domestic abuse counseling centers currently receive 61.9 million won ($55,000) in funding, sexual assault centers receive 61 million won and rape victim counseling centers each receive 130 million won.

Low funding means the centers cannot employ more staff or provide different programs, the official added.

“It seems as though there are a lot that disappear while waiting for funds,” said one ministry official who was not named.

“It is true the actual amount of funds is low, so we are objectively trying to set an amount,” said the official.

By Robert Lee (