Addressing some basic needsSex crimes committed by senior citizens against the weak cannot be ignored anymore. In a small village in Tongyeong, South Gyeongsang, a woman with a mental disability has for many years been prey to sexual assaults by a group of residents in their 60s and 70s. In a small town in South Jeolla, as many as 10 men in the same age range were indicted for their persistent sexual violence against another mentally handicapped woman.
Sex crimes by senior citizens ring sharp alarm bells. According to police statistics, the number of sexual predators in their 60s soared to 809 last year from 481 in 2007, while the statistic for people in their 70s rose to 268 last year from 193 four years earlier. A drastic increase of sexual offenses in the sexagenarian group is particularly noticeable.
The alarming increase in sex crimes by older people - which owes something to better health conditions in an aging society - is a very serious issue as it often takes place in blind spots according to the report by the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office that says such predators target the socially weak, such as children and mentally handicapped women.
Public ignorance about old people’s sexual impulses also contributes to the situation. A recent survey on their sex lives by the Ministry of Health and Welfare shows that two-thirds of senior citizens are still sexually active, with 35.4 percent of them buying sex. Yet our society turns a blind eye to their sexual desires by dismissing them as an asexual group, which exacerbates their social isolation and intensifies their sexual drive.
Government agencies, including the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, have not studied and analyzed what’s happening around them. Older people’s sex crimes can hardly be solved by strict punishment alone. The government must come up with a comprehensive set of policies that addresses senior citizens’ needs, but also protects vulnerable class of citizens.