More tools to stop domestic violence

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More tools to stop domestic violence

The police will have more authority in handling domestic violence cases as uncooperative perpetrators will be subject to 5 million won ($4,378) in fines starting this year.

The toughened rule, announced yesterday during a joint meeting with eight relevant government agencies, stems from the Park Geun-hye administration’s drive to slow the upward trend in domestic violence, one of four major “social evils” Park targeted during the presidential campaign last year.

If lawbreakers refuse police entry or don’t comply with the police, they will be fined up to 5 million won. Yesterday’s announcement includes a set of other measures intended to curb the rate of repeated domestic violence.

Among them is forcible separation of a couple found to be constantly fighting and on-site arrest. If the assailant uses a weapon he or she will be put directly under police investigation. The government also said it will adopt a tougher punishment when the victims are minorities such as immigrants, children and the disabled.

The law enforcement agencies will limit the access of the perpetrator of domestic violence to their children to ensure safety and stem repeat cases.

Along with the strengthened penalties, the police will do their part to prevent minor scuffles from spiraling into serious domestic violence by hiring a professional counselor to accompany them.

They also will offer counseling services for those who call the police amid verbal and physical disputes. The package of new rules comes against the backdrop of a drastic increase in domestic violence cases last year.

Police arrested 8,762 criminals for domestic violence across the nation in 2012, up from 6,848 in 2011, according to government data.

Fifteen percent of married women in Korea were victims of domestic abuse in 2010, which is more than five times greater than Britain’s 3 percent and Japan’s 3 percent, according to Yonhap News Agency.

The revised law follows the government’s reform agenda of taking tougher measures against domestic violence. The Korean law enforcement agencies tend to consider domestic violence cases as merely family affairs, but the tendency gradually shifted.

In 2012, police officers were granted the authority to enter all sites of domestic violence even without the perpetrator’s consent to check on victims. Under the reformed law, the police are also authorized to remove perpetrators from the site if it is thought to be too dangerous.

BY PARK EUN-JEE [ejpark@joongang.co.kr]

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