Outrage sparked by serial rape case
An alleged serial gang rape of five middle-school girls by 41 high school boys has stirred outrage, following reports that the families of the boys and the police blamed the victims for the sexual violence.
Twelve boys have been arrested, but the case sparked a demonstration in Gwanghwamun Saturday by 150 persons who decried officials handling the case. The protesters said investigators from Nambu Police Precinct in Ulsan, South Gyeongsang province, were harming the young victims even more. The protesters said they were appalled by a report that a male police officer accused the victims of “embarrassing his hometown.”
“Police should protect the victims, not abuse them,” yelled one furious protester.
Others were angry that the victims were left unprotected while they and their families were threatened by the boys’ families.
According to the victims and their families, the boys cursed the girls during police questioning. The boys’ families also called the girls and told them that they should “watch out from now on for reporting our sons to police.”
Victims said they had asked for a female officer to investigate the case, but police ignored their requests. Instead, they were told to stand face to face with 41 boys and pick out the offenders.
The case was revealed to the public last week after police raided an Internet cafe in Milyang, Gyeongsang province. They were leading an undercover investigation after a family from Ulsan, 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Milyang, reported that their daughters had been repeatedly raped and robbed for over a year by a group of high school boys.
After police rounded up 41 boys from three different high schools in the Milyang region, they found out that the boys had been molesting and threatening five teenage girls, including the two middle school-aged daughters of the parent who reported the case.
Police said a 14-year-old girl had been raped as many as 10 times by three to 24 high school boys. The boys reportedly blackmailed her to keep quiet unless she wanted pictures of her rape to be spread around her school. Then she was ordered to bring her younger sister and older cousin, aged 13 and 16, to Milyang.
The boys told police that there were two more victims, but police said they are still trying to find out who the remaining victims are. A lawyer said yesterday he would offer pro bono legal help to the three girls in court. He will visit Ulsan on Wednesday with a women’s rights activist to meet the girls.
by Lee Key-one, Lee Min-a