Tuesday, October 23, 2007

OECD: Korea Classified As A "Danger Country" For Women

Amnesty International members at Ewha Womans University's front gate

Update 1 (Oct. 27, 2007 @ 3:53pm)

Robert over at The Marmot's Hole posted about the subject a couple of days ago: Violent Crime Against Women in the News

His focus is different as are the focus of his commentors.

A lot neglect to note that the article does talk about Korean on Korean crime, the police officer and the men who rent taxis mentioned in the article ARE Korean. Instead, they focus more on how the media here reports foreigner on Korean crime, an alleged high number of reports by foreigners of Muslim heritage and where to find prostitutes...go figure. Whatever your views on prostitution, it's a crime!


This is an interesting article. It talks about how there is a rise in violent crime against women in Korea. One reason they point to is the increase of women workers which means more women out and about alone. I wouldn't be surprised because this is a country where if you hear a man beating his wife, you're told to ignore it.

However, that leads to another point the article doesn't touch on at all. What about the crimes that aren't reported at all? A female Korean friend of mine suffered through an attempted rape. No, she didn't report it. I told her she should, but it's really difficult to get a victim to stand up for herself in a society where some guys still think it's okay to slap a woman around on the street. Also, it can be quite difficult to get female victims to press charges in the States. Well, a few days later she called me in a panic when the guy contacted her again and told her he was waiting for her at the entrance of her apartment. I knew she wasn't going to call the police, so I called her boyfriend. That's about as close as she was going to get to protection.


I've never been in the situation where I've witnessed a violent crime against a woman, but it's a scenario I've heard about from other foreigners. Foreigners in particular are told to stay out of it when they see it (or hear it). In fact, this is one common justification foreign men will give as to why they're better dating prospects for Korean women. I think that's still up for debate, but I do think that a Korean woman is probably less likely to get slapped around by her foreign boyfriend or husband. There is no guarantee by a long shot, but I think the probability is lower due to how our societies view and deal with violence against women. Western countries, particularly the States, still have some ways to go too.

Now the Korean press likes to paint foreign men as these horrible men who prey on Korean women (and some are horrible and they are players, if not worse). However, most of these guys are okay. What the hell do you expect when you import mostly single male foreign teachers? Who are they supposed to date? Anyway, I can most definitely see why a few Korean women I know have more than a passing fancy for foreign men and why they're seen as the holy grail by some Korean women (don't shoot the messenger). I think there are a few reasons. But the one related to this topic is the general perception that they're treated better. Sad for the Korean men who are gentlemen because I know quite a few of them too. Unfortunately, for them the view is Korean men are misogynistic to a fault.

Well, read on...

Rash of Violent Crimes Leaves Korean Women Frightened
Many Korea women are anxious these days after a series of murders, rapes and other crimes targeting women made headlines recently.

Last August, two female office workers were abducted and murdered by illegal taxi drivers near Hongik University in Seoul, and in September a police officer raped two women in a subway parking lot late at night, stealing some W19 million (US$1=W917) in cash and valuables.

Earlier this month, a man in his 30s was arrested for raping nine women who were returning home at night in Seongbuk district in northern Seoul. Women now are increasingly afraid to catch a cab at night or even to go out.

With the surging growth of women in the Korean work force, economic participation by females has reached 54.8 percent. However public security measures to protect women at night remain neglected. According to the National Police Agency, more than a third of all violent crimes including murder, robbery, and rape occur between midnight and four a.m.

Korea is classified a "danger country" in terms of women's public safety by the 30-member OECD. According to the OECD's Social and Welfare Statistics for 2007, the homicide rate for Korean women is 1.7 per every 100,000 people, the third highest after the U.S. (2.7) and Iceland (2.2).

Experts say it's urgent that safety be ensured in cabs, the most frequently used means of transportation for working women at night. Most cabs including private and company-run ones are considered safe but measures must be taken against illegal contract cabs that are often used in crimes.

Contract cabs refer to licensed cabs that can be rented from an owner or a company for around W100,000 a day. They allow criminals to act as cab divers as long as they can pay. An estimated 5,000 contract cabs cruise the streets of Seoul.

"While more than 80 percent of people in Korea catch cabs on the street, most people in other countries have to call," said Park Yong-hun from the Coalition for Transportation Culture of Korea. "We should pursue a system for women-only call cabs."

Many also point out the need to step up public safety measures in secluded places like parking lots and alleys by setting up watch posts and CCTV cameras. "Women returning home late at night are the easiest targets for criminals, since they look for vulnerable victims in places where they can most easily commit crimes," said researcher Hwang Gi-tae of the Korea Institute of Criminal Justice Policy.

OECD: Social and Welfare Issues

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