Stronger penalties for voyeurism

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Stronger penalties for voyeurism

Voyeurism-related cases, particularly the crimes of taking secret photos and videos up the skirts of young girls or spreading recordings made of intimate acts on the Internet or mobile platforms, are dangerously on the rise. The offence is committed not only by people with clinical disorders, but by regular people and the elite - doctors, professors, journalists, religious leaders, lawyers, public servants, salary earners and students. The number of female victims is uncountable.

According to a new police investigation, there are 12 reports per day of secret up-skirt or other offensive photo-taking. The JoongAng Ilbo’s special series on “The Republic on Voyeurism” bared the shameful prevalence of illicit voyeuristic activities in our society.

More outrageous is the swift spread of the culture of voyeurism across society. The techniques and related technologies are rapidly mushrooming around the country. Moreover, cameras have become as sophisticated as those from spy movies. They come in the shape of shirt buttons, wristwatches, eyeglasses, pens, remote controls and USB memory sticks.

Such convenient electronic gadgets can easily be picked up in electronic appliance shops in just about any neighborhood. There are Internet sites where these people exchange secretly-shot videos and pictures, and some even trade on pornographic sites for profit. The easy access to digital devices and Web sites related to voyeurism no doubt has helped build a sense of immunity toward this sexually offensive behavior. Many now minimize the act, considering it as a kind of fun diversion instead of a serious crime.

Taking pictures or videos of someone without the person’s knowledge or consent constitutes a criminal act. The so-called up-skirt photo-taking is punishable by a special law on sex crimes. Taking and spreading videos of intimate acts or threatening someone with such a video is also counted as a crime. But the problem is that the offenders often receive light punishments, which is one of the major reasons the offence is on the rise in our society.

Voyeuristic acts can seriously hurt their victims and undermine social decency. Law enforcement authorities must respond with a strong will to rein in these illicit voyeuristic behaviors. We all need to raise awareness that taking secret pictures of others is as menacing and humiliating as physical violations against a victim.

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