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Govt takes measures to combat sexual abuse in sports

The government plans to take strong measures to root out sexual abuse in sports, as Olympic short track champion Shim Suk-hee’s claim of sexual assault by her former coach has triggered the #MeToo movement in the sports community.

After Shim publicly accused Cho Jae-beom of sexual assault on Tuesday, two more skaters came forward accusing their respective coaches of sexual abuse on Wednesday.

According to the Young Skaters Asociation, which has investigated sexual abuse in Korea’s skating community, there are four more skaters who are reluctant to disclose their cases.

Gender Equality Minister Jin Sun-mee speaks at a meeting on Friday. (Yonhap)
Gender Equality Minister Jin Sun-mee speaks at a meeting on Friday. (Yonhap)

Amid snowballing revelations, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family held a meeting Friday afternoon to discuss measures to tackle sexual abuse in sports.

The meeting was attended by officials from the relevant ministries, including the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Justice. National Police Agency officials also took part.

“First of all, I’d like to express my respect to the skater Shim Suk-hee for courageously coming forward with her revelation,” Gender Equality Minister Jin Sun-mee said at the meeting.

“The government will offer full support to the victims, including Shim, on resuming their everyday lives,” she added.

The minister urged government bodies to foster an environment in which victims in the sports community can report their cases without fear.

The ministry said it will work with the Sports Ministry on a sexual abuse report process and create educational programs on preventing sexual violence in conjunction with the Education Ministry.

The Gender Equality Ministry said it will put its best efforts to offering legal advice, counseling and medical services to victims, and protecting them from additional harm. 

“Sexual abuse has not been eradicated because of a custom that condones the use of violence in training athletes. The system for giving opportunities to compete in games is also related to the problem,” Gender Equality Minister Jin said.

She also urged police to keep the victim’s identity secret during investigations and strictly probe sexual abuse cases so that perpetrators are punished.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism on Wednesday announced plans to combat sexual abuse in sports.

The ministry said it will expand the range of sexual abuses that are punishable by the “one-strike out” policy, which bans people from working in the sports industry if they commit a sex crime.

In addition, the ministry will survey organizations included in the Korean Sport and Olympic Committee and the Korean Paralympic Committee to find wrongdoings in the sports community by March and impose strict penalties.

By Park Ju-young (