Saturday, July 2, 2016

Gender and Sexuality

A professor at a research center for women in her column in the Peace Weekly wants her readers to reflect on sexual harassment issues that continue to appear in the news. A few years ago, a staff member with the President on a trip to the States was accused of sexual indiscretion with an Embassy intern.

He was removed from his job and returned to Korea. In his interview with the press, his explanation was: he patted the back of the Korean guide. From that time on he has been secluded in his home. Seeing how public opinion was not happy with what was happening the President apologized for the incident. Since the intern was assigned by the Korean Embassy to help the staff member, the relationship was one of superior and subordinate. The writer sees this as sexual violence. Staff members considered the person a guide and tried to minimize the seriousness of the incident as did others who were dealing with issues involved in the incident.

The government has decreed that in the future public officials on overseas duty will not be dealing with interns. The writer does not believe the authorities realize  the problem is a structural one and  tries to remedy it with makeshift solutions. Many, overcome with anger, sent an open letter to the President in which they want what happened seen  through the eyes of the young woman;  the staff member undergo investigation in the States; and provide  provisions that will prevent this from happening again.

1,000 women from Korea have voiced their disapproval of the handling of the case. It is a criminal case. They want the case to be tried before the district public prosecutor's office. Since the staff member has denied any wrong doing this has resulted in harm to the victim's reputation. If we ignore what happened, we are facing a future where politicians will continue this kind of behavior. They want to make clear these actions are violence against women.

Since the statute of limitation ends this year, the staff member is free to  express the unfairness(?) of what he  experienced. Both the States and Korea are in a fog on how to look upon what happened. The need to bring up the subject after three years is to prevent the recurrence of similar incidents: inaction and using a cotton bat are no help. Often they  blame it on too much drinking or the victim's behavior which takes the concern for the violence off the perpetrator. Without growth in respect for human rights, democracy does not mature, and she hopes that this incident will help  promote our understanding of gender and sexuality.

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