How many more victims?

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How many more victims?

To our chagrin, there has been another abominable incidence of sexual assault in Korea. An 8-year-old schoolgirl was kidnapped from her elementary school by a stranger in broad daylight and then raped, leaving indelible scars, both physical and mental. We wonder what the adults were doing at the time.

This is all the more shocking because it so closely resembles the barbarous rape of another 8-year-old girl by Cho Du-sun in 2008. Cho raped his victim on her way to school.

But this time the victim was kidnapped on a school playground before she was raped. The alleged perpetrator, Kim Su-cheol, who has a history of sexual violence, confessed to having committed his crime while under the influence of alcohol.

With this latest in the recent series of sexual assaults of young girls, we have pushed another innocent girl into an insurmountable ordeal by ignoring the ardent appeals of those who have been victimized before her.

According to statistics, 1,017 children under the age of 12 and 1,447 teenagers between the ages of 13 and 15 experienced sexual violence in the last year alone. After such a large number of children came forward as the victims of sexual offenses, the government finally responded with policies to address the rampant spree of sex crimes. It was only last March that the terms for wearing electronic tracking bracelets were extended, the statute of limitations was suspended for sexual offenders committing crimes against juveniles until their victims become adults, and the upper limit of their imprisonment was also extended. That may be better than nothing.

The problem is that, despite the toughened punishments for the perpetrators of sex crimes, the government has still stopped short of a fundamental solution to the problem. When it comes to sex crimes, especially those against children, it is almost impossible to cure the offenders through reformation or medical treatment, because as soon as they get out of prison, they go searching for their next victims.

Many countries have implemented stern measures as to permanently isolate sexual offenders from society. The French government mandates that sexual offenders who are released from prison remain in rehabilitation facilities even if there is only a slight possibility for recidivism. We also should be prepared to establish the toughest possible measures in order to prevent another sexual crime against another young person. We should also strengthen the safety measures around school zones. As sex offenders have been seen roaming around school areas, we need to increase the number of CCTV units and police manpower there so that not even one more young girl has to suffer.

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