Ministries to work together to combat sex abuse in sports

By Park Ju-young
  • Published : Jan 17, 2019 - 15:03
  • Updated : Jan 17, 2019 - 15:03

Amid the snowballing revelations of coaches’ sexual misconduct, the government on Thursday unveiled its scheme to root out sexual abuse in the sports community.

“The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family will form a consultative group with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Ministry of Education in February to formulate measures to combat sexual abuses in the sports community,” Gender Ministry Vice Minister Lee Sook-jin said during a briefing Thursday.

Lee Sook-jin, vice minister of gender equality and family, briefs the press in Seoul on Thursday on government actions to stop sexual violence and human rights breaches in the sports community. (Yonhap)

The blueprint includes stiffened punishments for perpetrators. According to Lee, the government will work on revising the law to make personnel of sports organizations, associations or clubs subject to jail time if they try to cover up or minimize a sexual abuse case committed in the sports community.

The Gender Ministry also pledged to push the National Assembly to pass a pending bill that bans concealing or minimizing sexual abuse reports.

The Ministry of Education promised to reinforce management and supervision of school teams, while the National Police Agency said it would beef up its special probe with 143 investigators, including legal advisers and digital forensics experts.

In addition, the Gender Ministry said it will improve the procedure for reporting sexual abuse so that victims can freely come forward with cases without fear of retaliation or additional harm to their careers. The Sports Ministry will work with the Sunflower Center, an organization for supporting victims of sexual violence, to offer counseling and legal services for the victims.

To prevent the reoccurrence of such crimes, the Gender Ministry and Sports Ministry will foster professional instructors to participate in violence prevention programs. Sports industry retirees can work as instructors as they understand the training systems, the Gender Ministry said.

The government plans to survey some 63,000 male and female student-athletes to uncover additional sexual abuse cases by March, together with the National Human Rights Commission of Korea. According to the survey, the perpetrators can be sent to the police or prosecutors for further investigation.

The recent allegations of sexual misconduct by coaches has triggered a #MeToo movement in the sports community, leading more athletes to come forward.

Olympic short track gold medalist Shim Suk-hee filed a complaint against her former coach over alleged sexual assault on Dec. 17, while two more skaters revealed sexual abuses by their coaches on Jan. 10. On Monday, former judoka Shin Yu-yong said she was repeatedly sexually assaulted by a former coach from summer 2011 to 2015.

By Park Ju-young (