South Korean police to crack down on dating violence
Crackdown follows incident where man kicked and punched his ex and chased her in a truck
By You Soo-sun
The police launched a 100-day action plan to crack down on violence against women, which takes effect today and will proceed until October 31. The announcement came Sunday amid increasing concerns on dating abuse, recently stirred by revelation of video footage that showed a man assaulting his ex-girlfriend and then chasing her down a narrow alley with a truck in Sindang-dong, central Seoul.
While drunk, the 22-year-old man, surnamed Son, repeatedly hit the woman with his fists and kicked her, knocking her to the ground several times before pedestrians came to her aid. He then drove his truck chasing the woman down the alley. According to the victim, the incident occurred about a week after they broke up. The video footage went viral online.
The incident demonstrates the increasing need to curb violence against women. According to the National Police Agency, 8,367 people were taken into custody on charges of physical violence against their partners in 2015, up 8.8 per cent from 2014. It also showed 233 people were murdered by their partners over the last five years.
In a recent survey conducted by the Korea Women’s Hotline a non-governmental organisation that supports female victims of violence 61.6 per cent of female respondents said they had been abused while dating.
Specific periods were set in place to address each issue. From today to August 31, it will focus on curbing dating violence by encouraging victims and witnesses to file abuse reports and scaling up its investigations into such cases. It will also bolster protection for victims. From today until August 25, it will strengthen initiatives to prevent prostitution of minors by monitoring websites and applications they have easy access to. The latter half of the period, from September 1 to October 31, will be focused on rooting out sexual assault in the workplace and domestic violence, considering it is likely to increase close to the Chuseok season in October. To do so, it will monitor households susceptible to or with a history of domestic violence.
Experts further stressed the need to create an atmosphere that encourages the participation of civic groups and citizens. The police agency said it will identify and cooperate with organisations that work to create a safer environment for women.
The move is part of the Moon Jae-in administration’s goals for improving welfare and safety included in its five-year road map announced Wednesday, reflecting the sense of urgency felt by the presidential office.
But, many are sceptical whether the measure will be sufficient to do so. Law enforcement in Korea doesn’t take dating abuse seriously, with offenders getting off with light punishment ― for example stalking is punished with up to a 100,000 won (US$90) fine.
People here are looking at Clare’s Law in the United Kingdom as a successful example of a plan to curb domestic abuse. Clare’s Law is designed to protect potential victims of domestic abuse by allowing them access to information about their partner’s past. It was named after Clare Wood, who was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 2009. Research by the Korea Institute of Criminology in 2016 showed that 76.6 per cent of sexual crime offenders from 2005 to 2015 had a criminal record, including that of sexual assault and murder, legitimising the need for such a law here although privacy concerns remain.