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Radical feminist’s arrest warrant causes outrage

Aug 10,2018
Authorities in Korea are seeking the help of international law enforcement to arrest the manager of a radical feminist website for allowing pornographic hidden-camera footage to be uploaded on the site.

The case has divided the country, with some calling the police’s investigation one-sided and discriminatory against women.

A cyber investigation team of the Busan police said on Wednesday that the local court has issued an arrest warrant for the manager of Womad, who appears to be abroad.

Officers on the team would not reveal her alleged whereabouts but said they were communicating with authorities in that country and Interpol for help.

Earlier this year, footage from hidden cameras installed in a men’s shower at a public sauna ended up on Womad, a website that professes to upturn gender norms by “mirroring” practices they deem patriarchic.

One example is uploading hidden-camera footage of men, reflecting a widespread problem in Korea of hidden-camera footage of women that ends up on pornographic websites.

Some feminist groups are calling the police investigation sexist, alleging that authorities have not gone after men who upload hidden-camera footage as swiftly.

“Are the authorities listening to women’s outcry against police sexism?” read a petition uploaded to the Blue House website on Wednesday. “There have been protests to demand fairer police investigations, and now here’s another one that shows police sexism.”

In May, thousands of women protested in central Seoul against the police’s prompt arrest that month of a woman who posted a picture of a nude male model online.

Many feminist groups accused the police of lax enforcement against male perpetrators of hidden-camera crimes and saw the authorities’ quick response to the case with a female perpetrator as an example of sexism.

“Why are the police investigating the manager of Womad?” the petition read. “They don’t go after other websites like Ilganbest that are also uploading and spreading pornographies. This is another example to show that women’s voices are not heard here.”

Ilganbest, also known as Ilbe, is an online forum notorious for its far-right and misogynist content.

Law enforcement authorities insist they are being fair in their investigations.

“This year, 62 cases concerning Ilbe were reported to police, and we arrested 53 suspects,” a police officer said on the condition of anonymity. “We received reports on 32 cases concerning Womad, and we have not arrested anyone yet.”

As of Thursday, the Blue House petition has garnered over 62,000 signatures. A petition on the website remains open for a month, and the Blue House is required to formally respond to those that gain more than 200,000 signatures.

Min Gap-ryong, commissioner general of the National Police Agency, denied allegations that the recent investigations are one-sided.

“The police are investigating anyone who uploads, spreads and allows the spread of illegal footage,” Min said at a ceremony to launch a cyber investigation team at the National Police Agency’s headquarters in Seodaemun District, western Seoul, on Thursday.

“We are aware that footage has been uploaded illegally to websites like Ilbe,” he added, “and we are investigating related cases. Authorities are aware that women have faced various discrimination, and we will do all we can to ensure strict investigations into crimes against women.”

The new team launched on Thursday will focus on cases related to hidden cameras and other forms of online harassment.

BY ESTHER CHUNG, LEE TAE-YUN [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]


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