[Campus Commentary]Make campus areas ‘women-friendly’Recently, an Internet posting on the Web site of my school, Sookmyung, caught my attention. It was about an unfortunate incident that occurred recently at a boarding house near the school. A female college student was raped in her room there.
The story attracted a lot of attention from other students, and many wrote replies. Some shared similar stories about feeling threatened while living on a block filled with boarding houses mostly for students.
I am a boarder myself and I felt concerned about the issue. After that, I did my best to keep safe, even though all I could do was check the locks of my doors and windows again. For about a week, I spent sleepless nights because I was scared. A friend who wanted to move out of her parent’s house to live near the school because her parent’s house was far away abandoned the plan after reading about the incident.
This is happening not just at our school. Sex crimes frequently occur in areas where female populations cluster. Serial rapes by criminals such as “Itaewon’s squirrel” and “Balbari” occur in places where women live alone.
Areas around women’s universities are particularly vulnerable. Although there could be no perfect solution, one would think a few countermeasures can help.
But the reality is that there are no countermeasures. Sometimes police patrols around the block increase, but that’s all. Women have to pay attention to their own security.
The rate of sex crimes reported to the police is low due to the fact that the women targeted are scared about the publicity or even retaliation. This makes the rate of repeat offenses high.
However, efforts to prevent such crimes are low around women’s universities. You can’t find any cameras for crime prevention like closed-circuit television on streets. Even though many of the houses are located on alleyways, there are few streetlights and only some are lit in dark streets. Women are expected to keep safe in dangerous circumstances without the social infrastructure to keep women safe.
Recently, the slogan “women-friendly city” received media attention. Gimpo city announced plans to turn its town into a women-friendly city. The city is currently promoting the plan. Because of that, there are more CCTV cameras and streetlights are lit during the night. There are also parking lots exclusively for women in almost all public establishments. And women can get off the bus anywhere they want late at night if she wants to be let off closer to her home.
It seems to me that the government should also construct a women-friendly environment around women’s universities. There is a higher likelihood of sex crimes there than in other parts of town because many young single women live alone near the university. Not only local offices but also the national government should redouble efforts for women’s security and to prevent sex crimes.
All people have the right to pursue happiness, civil liberties and other rights. Young women and students are no exception. They should not have to suffer sleepless nights out of fear of sexual violence. The government should protect women’s safety and the right to sleep in peace.
*The writer is a reporter of The Sookmyung Times at Sookmyung Women’s University.
by Hwang Jeon Seo-kyung