Gov’t gets tough on sex crimes against minors

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Gov’t gets tough on sex crimes against minors

The government yesterday unveiled a package of strengthened preventive and punitive measures for sex crimes, especially for perpetrators targeting minors under age 16, in line with the Park Geun-hye administration’s main pledge to root out sexual violence, targeted by Park as one of the four major “social evils.”

With the new measure in place, those charged with sexually assaulting minors under the of age 16 will receive at minimum a seven-year-prison term and up to life in prison.

The current law requires a minimum of a five-year-jail term.

“Only about one in two sexual violators, or 45.1 percent, against minors end up behind bars [under the current legal practice]. With the change in sexual crime punishment standards [which will require at least a seven-year-jail term for juvenile sexual crime culprits], no more suspended verdicts will be made,” said Gender Equality Minister Cho Yoon-sun.

The government also stated government workers implicated in sexual crimes will be dismissed from their post regardless of the seriousness of the crime, a departure from the current practice in which only those charged with sexual crimes against minors are subject to expulsion.

“Sexual crimes against the socially vulnerable, such as children and women, is a grave crime that must be uprooted,” said Prime Minister Chung Hong-won while presiding over the national policy meeting yesterday at the central government complex in Gwanghwamun, central Seoul.

In an effort to speed up police reaction to reports of sex crimes, the government will mandate each police station to display profiles, such as addresses and phone numbers, of those convicted for sexual crimes in the past on a digital district mapping system. The government added that public access to such profiles by mobile phones will also be available next year. The government is also considering mandating mobile phone providers to install programs to block access to sexual content on smartphones for phone users who are minors.

“The government aims to preemptively prevent sexual crimes by taking advantage of information and communication technology,” said the prime minister.

The new government policy on sex crimes followed a comprehensive overhaul of sex crime laws, in which 150 new laws or revisions related to sex offenses took effect Wednesday. The main revision was the chingojae system, which required victims to complain before charges can be filed.

BY KANG JIN-KYU [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]

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