System 'Failing Victims of Child Sex Crimes'

      February 23, 2009 09:43

      Reported child sex crimes are on the increase. According to the Korea National Police Agency, the number of reports on sex crimes committed against children under 13 rose by 90 percent from 642 in 2003 to 1,220 in 2008, and the average age of victims dropped. Experts and families of victims say courts are too lenient with perpetrators. One group of parents claims some 90 percent of perpetrators are neither indicted nor arrested for lack of enough evidence.

      According to a Justice Ministry' review committee, only 23.5 percent of convicted perpetrators of sexual violence against children under 13 were actually jailed between 2004 and 2007, with 70.6 percent released on probation. Lee Yoon-sang, director of the Korea Sexual Violence Relief Center, said, "No matter how severe the stipulated sentences are against the perpetrators of child sex crimes, judges are so lenient that most of the criminals are released on appeal.

      In reality, some court rulings still cite unwitting commission of the crime due to intoxication as a justification for reducing sentences." That stands in stark contrast to China, which executes adults who have sexual relations with children under 14 whether or not the victims consented.

      Canada chemically castrates sex criminals, and the U.K. has the option of life imprisonment for child sex offenders. Lee Kum-hyung, the chief of police's women and children's division, said, "Many victims of child sex crimes make irrelevant or incoherent remarks without focusing on what's going on when they're forced to talk about what they don't want to say, and some judges find in favor of the perpetrators, saying witnesses were uncooperative or incoherent."

      Some 60-70 percent of child sex crimes are committed by people the victims know well and by those in power relationships with the victim.

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