Guarding female soldiers

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Guarding female soldiers

The Korean army appears to have no sense of sexual discipline. A series of sexual harassments and assaults were reported last year that led to the suicide of a female officer. The military has promised zero-tolerance of sexual abuse, but that rule is largely ignored by the higher command. A colonel in Gangwon Province was arrested for raping a female subordinate more than half his age. The case was discovered during an investigation of another major in the same unit who was accused of sexually harassing a female staff sergeant.

Sexual abuse of female soldiers has been rampant among males in higher positions. Last year, an army brigade commander was arrested for sexually abusing a female subordinate. Worse, these men have no shame.

They have insisted that they had a relationship based on mutual consent although the victims claimed that they were sexually abused and assaulted. Perpetrators of sexual abuse in workplaces often say the female victims share responsibility because they did not clearly protest. Ambiguity can worsen the problem for the victims.

But when their job is on the line, it is not easy for women to outright resist unwanted advances from their bosses. Those who stand up to sexual abuse often end up being more damaged and even lose their job. Therefore, the victim cannot be blamed for sexual abuse.

The situation becomes more complicated in the military, where the chain of command is stricter. No one can question or resist command. Punishments of sexual abuses in the military are often light. Of 37 reported sexual abuse cases in the military in 2013, only one has been prosecuted. Protection of victims is also poor. One victim was abused again when she moved to another unit.

The opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy demands that military sexual abuse cases should be referred to a civilian judiciary as the military cannot be trusted. The military must strengthen its sexual abuse protection efforts and protection of female soldiers.

JoongAng Ilbo, Jan. 29, Page 30

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