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Half of women worry about sex crimes while using public bathroom: survey

Victim blaming still prevalent in Korean society

By Lee Jung-youn

Published : June 21, 2023 - 15:41

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More than half of Korean women worry about becoming victims of sexual violence when using taxis or public bathrooms, a study showed Wednesday.

The study also shed light on the rising use of digital devices in sex crimes and the strong tendency to shift blame onto the victims from both men and women.

The Gender Ministry published the 2022 Sexual Violence Safety Survey, a statistical survey conducted every three years. The survey was conducted on 10,020 respondents aged 19 to 64 nationwide. Of the respondents, 48.7 percent were female and 51.3 percent were male.

Some 63 percent of female respondents said they worry about sexual assault or harassment when they are alone on the street late at night, and 52.9 percent said they feel uneasy when strangers visit or knock on their door when they are home alone. Some 51 percent answered that they are "worried about becoming victims of sexual assault when using taxis or public bathrooms alone."

In the case of male respondents, only about 10 percent respectively agreed with each of the statements above.

When asked about the type of sexual assault or harassment they have experienced, 9.8 percent said they had experienced incidences of sexual harassment involving electronic devices. This was the most common type of sexual crime reported by the respondents.

Sexual harassment involving electronic devices includes sending sexual photos or links, initiating inappropriate conversations and asking for physical relationships, posting victims' personal information with sexual content, impersonating someone to send sexual content to others, and demanding illicit images and videos.

More men responded that they had received sexual photos or links through mobile messaging apps than women, but in all other cases, women reported experiencing higher incidences of sexual harassment and assault than male respondents.

The data also revealed that victims of sex crimes are still blamed to some degree, usually for their choice of clothing or their behavior leading up to the crime.

Nearly 40 percent of female respondents and 52.1 percent of male respondents agreed with the statement, “Sexual violence occurs because of revealing clothing." To the statement, "If the victim was sexually assaulted while he or she was drunk, the victim is also responsible for what happened," 35.7 percent of women and 43.4 percent of men agreed.

In regards to other data, 2.6 percent of respondents said they had reported a sex crime to the police at least once, while only 0.6 percent said they had received help from victim support agencies.

When asked about whether they had felt uncomfortable during the police investigation, all male respondents said "No," while 21.1 percent of female respondents said "Yes."

Among female respondents who had experienced discomfort during a police investigation, 75.3 percent said they had to explain the case repeatedly, 45.5 percent said they felt ashamed and humiliated, and 36.6 percent said they felt that the police considered the case to be trivial.