Korean Government Gets Slammed By An International Human Rights Organization For Its Failure To Stop Digital Sex Crimes

Reuters also criticized the country for being “the global epicenter of spy-cams.”

In a massive 96-page report published June 16, 2021 to the Human Rights Watch website, the New York based international non-governmental organization for advocacy on human rights heavily criticized South Korea’s most disturbing problem: Digital sex crimes.

Picture is for illustrative purposes only. | MK

The report pointed out that as the number of spy-cam and related digital sex crimes exploded elevenfold between 2008 to 2017, the government and legal authorities have remained all too lenient on handling such cases.

Spy-cams being shown on “Little Big Masters.” | SBS

In 2008, fewer than 4 percent of sex crime prosecutions in South Korea involved illegal filming. By 2017 the number of these cases had increased elevenfold, from 585 cases to 6,615, and constituted 20 percent of sex crime prosecutions. Much of the public attention to digital sex crimes was initially driven by use of tiny cameras (“spy-cams”) to covertly record footage in places like toilets, changing rooms, and hotels, with those placing the cameras sometimes earning money by selling the footage.

— Human Rights Watch

Based on 38 interviews with survivors of digital sex crimes and experts, as well as an online survey of survivors, the report then shares, “The women and girls targeted face major barriers to justice.”

Police often refuse to accept their complaints and behave in abusive ways, minimizing harm, blaming them, treating images insensitively, and engaging in inappropriate interrogation. When cases move ahead, survivors struggle to obtain information about their cases and to have their voices heard by the court.

In 2019, prosecutors dropped 43.5 percent of sexual digital crimes cases, compared with 27.7 percent of homicide cases and 19 percent of robbery cases. Judges often impose low sentences – in 2020, 79 percent of those convicted of capturing intimate images without consent received a suspended sentence, a fine, or a combination of the two. Fifty-two percent received only a suspended sentence. The problems survivors face in the justice system are exacerbated by a lack of women police, prosecutors, and judges.

— Human Rights Watch

According to the report, the seemingly never-ending digital sex crimes in Korea stems from gender inequality. Heather Barr, interim co-director of women’s rights at Human Rights Watch and author of the report, stated that “The root cause of digital sex crimes in South Korea is widely accepted harmful views about and conduct toward women and girls.”

Koreans protesting against the spread of intimate photos and footage taken by hidden cameras. | Yonhap News

South Korea’s government and National Assembly…have failed to grapple with deep forms of gender inequity that fuel and normalize digital sex crimes. In the 2021 World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap ranking, South Korea ranked 102 out of 156 countries, with the largest gap on economic participation and opportunity of any advanced economy… ‘The root cause of digital sex crimes in South Korea is widely accepted harmful views about and conduct toward women and girls that the government urgently needs to address,’ Barr said. ‘The government has tinkered with the law but has not sent a clear and forceful message that women and men are equal, and misogyny is unacceptable.’

— Human Rights Watch

Reuters, in its own coverage of the report and the South Korean digital sex crime issue, also bashed the nation for being the “the global epicenter of spy-cam.”

South Korea has become the global [epicenter] of spy-cam… Victims are often traumatized further and become “immersed in the abuse” by encounters with police and other justice officials, and by the expectation that they should gather evidence and monitor the internet for new appearances of images of themselves…

— Reuters

From the “2019 Burning Sun Scandal” to the “2020 Nth Room Sex Abuse Case,” it is hard to argue that digital sex crimes are rampant in South Korea and that the nation is in crisis as it struggles in its ongoing battle against spy-cams and the distribution of photos and videos taken illegally with the spy-cams.

The culprit behind the “Nth Room Sex Abuse Case,” Cho Joo Bin. | Yonhap News

‘Digital sex crimes have become so common, and so feared, in South Korea that they are affecting the quality of life of all women and girls,’ said Barr. ‘Women and girls told us they avoided using public toilets and felt anxious about hidden cameras in public and even in their homes. An alarming number of survivors of digital sex crimes said they had considered suicide.’

— Human Rights Watch

While “humiliated by the international coverage,” Koreans hope that critical reports such as the one published by Human Rights Watch will eventually bring the government’s undivided attention to the issue and become the foundation of an actual reform for a safer Korea.

Source: Human Rights Watch (1) and (2) and Reuters