A war on sex crimesWhen someone commits a crime, he or she must pay the price. If this fundamental principle breaks down, law enforcement authorities cannot expect to deter offenders craving for crime. In the case of serious crimes like sexual assault, in particular, the authorities must demonstrate a stern determination to catch every one of the offenders and bring them to justice. Otherwise, more than 9,000 sexual predators are roaming the streets looking for new prey.
According to the National Police Agency, the number of sex crimes involving rape and sexual abuse hit 81,860 during the period of 2007 to 2011, and 9,189 cases were left unresolved. Moreover, the number of those unresolved cases sharply rose to 3,094 last year from 1,277 in 2007, a more than twofold increase. That explicitly shows a huge loophole in our law enforcement system.
A bigger problem, however, is that no one knows what the offenders who haven’t been caught are doing on the streets and in alleys across the country. Given the meager report rate as low as 10 percent, citizens’ anxiety cannot but be exacerbated. One of the biggest reasons for the low arrest rate is a lack of police officers among an ever-growing number of unresolved cases. Our society’s lenient attitude toward sexual offenses and courts’ light punishment such as merely a sentence of probation or a fine is also contributing to the situation.
As a result of the recurrence of sexual assaults against children lately, there seems to be a social consensus on the need for harsh punishment of sex offenders. The political circle has decided to exclude sexual violence from the category of crimes which are subject to victims’ complaints. If such a response is to achieve the goal, judges must let potential predators be fully aware of the grave penalty they are facing.
One of the things sex criminals fear most is the fact they are brought to justice without exception after they commit sexual offenses. The police must do its best to arrest them with a conviction that sexual violence constitutes a felony which is as serious as manslaughter.
A declaration to begin a war on sex crimes to establish law and order for a certain period of time or establishment of a task force are only stopgap measures. Without more fundamental solutions - a drastic reinforcement of investigation staff and budget, effective rehabilitation of sex criminals, and a substantial improvement of a sexual violence-prone environment, for instance - Korea can hardly expect to clear its reputation for leniency toward sex offenders.