[LETTERS TO THE EDITOR]Gender and the law: commentsThe Supreme Court will hear expert testimony on Dec. 18 in an appeal brought by five married women of an extended family clan who received less than a seventh of the inheritance that men in the family received. In the past, the court has ruled that membership in a family clan is limited to adult men with a common ancestry.
We students in the English for Law course of Ewha Womans University would like to comment on your article (Nov. 10, 2003) about the Supreme Court’s decision to hear arguments from experts.
- Your article shows that the women of the Samaenggong family were explicitly discriminated against in their inheritances compared to the men. It is hard to understand why the two lower courts ruled against the women.
- We support the Supreme Court’s decision to hear from experts on the sexual discrimination case. Hopefully, there may be a different ruling because of the arguments. This case shows that sexual barriers for women still exist in many parts of our society.
- We were very impressed at how the judicial system is changing to improve the current system. What was even more impressive was that the first case chosen in the new system was directly related to women’s rights. Korean women have gained many rights over the past few decades, but their position in the family system still seems to be low. With this kind of effort, along with the abolition of the “head of household” policy, we hope that women, especially those now stripped from their family registry when they marry, gain their rights.
- We are pleased to hear from experts that court officials are trying to broaden the range of reference for their judgements. This seems to be an essential step towards modifying the lives of the Korean people toward greater justice, and we believe it is an extremely important act decided on by court officials.
- The world is changing rapidly, and thus Korean society should revise the judiciary so that it fits modern standards. But the Supreme Court seems to maintain the law without much change.
- We hope we can read more about events like this that break down the social discrimination against women. Please do not forget there are many women who have the same thoughts as ours.
- We are very pleased to know that Korean courts are stepping forward to make a more equal society. However, we are also worried that this case might merely be a small dent rather than a force great enough to lead society toward more equality. We are certain that many women, already wary of short-lived attempts for equality, will be equally worried.
- We think it was a sensational decision for the Supreme Court to open the door to experts, partly giving up its huge traditional authority. We welcome this change, in the sense that a lot of serious cases will be reviewed and judged from a more thorough and comprehensive professional point of view.
by Hyun Jung Park, Yoon Hye-hoon, Shin Hei-won, Kang Kyung-jin, Esther Kim, Euh Hye-jin