Rape victims are scarred for life

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Rape victims are scarred for life

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As I looked out the window on the first morning of the Year of Snake, I found everything covered in snow. It may be heaven’s will to erase the suffering of the past and start afresh on a white piece of paper.

I would like to recommend a movie as we begin the new year. It is rather more serious than enjoyable. I don’t want to ruin the joy of the new year, but I believe we ought to watch this movie. I paid 4,000 won ($3.75) for the on-demand movie and watched it as if it were homework.

I was completely immersed in the film, “Don’t Cry, Mommy” from the beginning to the end. I was so upset that my heart was pounding.

The movie is based on a true story of a middle school girl who was raped by a group of boys. In the movie, a high school girl is raped by three of her classmates. The rapists threaten to upload the footage of the rape online and go on to assault her constantly. The girl commits suicide, but the offenders are not prosecuted to the fullest extent as they are minors. So the mother of the victim decides to take revenge on her own.

I knew about the case already as it had been in the news. However, I was stressed out throughout the movie as it focused closely on the sufferings of the victim and the family.

Rape victims may not look hurt on the surface. But as more people commit suicide due to mental stress than physical disabilities, psychological pain is harder to endure.

In the United States, a group of teenage rapists who assaulted an 11-year-old girl were sentenced to life in prison. While the defense attorney claimed that the victim may have been flirting with the boys, the jury ruled unanimously against them.

What about decisions in Korea? No matter how serious a crime is, minor offenders are often booked without detention or released with warnings on the grounds of “mental immaturity.” These offenders already know that they will not be detained regardless of their crime.

According to the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, the percentage of minority offenders among sex criminals doubled in the last three years.

Of course, extreme measures are not always the best. But light punishments encourage similar crimes. If it is too cruel to brand young offenders as criminals at an early age, what about the future of the young victims? It is regrettable, but even the minors need to know that they have to pay for their crimes. Only then can a second conviction rate go down.

The most serious problem is society’s perception of treating sex crimes lightly. Not all crimes are the same. Rapes are psychological murders. The offenders need to know that they have murdered souls, whether they are minors or not.

*The author is a guest columnist of the JoongAng Ilbo.
By Eom Eul-soon

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