Woman in dock for rape for first time in Korea

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Woman in dock for rape for first time in Korea

A Korean woman is being prosecuted for attempted rape for the first time since the law was revised in June 2013 to extend protection to rape victims who aren’t women.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office announced Thursday it indicted a 45-year-old divorcee named Jeon last month, who allegedly doped a 51-year-old male paramour and attempted to rape him after he said he wanted to break up.

According to the prosecution, the two met at a bicycle club in 2011 and started dating, even though the man was married and had children. Last July, he told her he wanted to end the relationship, and Jeon asked him to meet her one last time at her house, said the prosecution.

She allegedly gave him a drink spiked with sleeping pills, saying it would help him recover from a bone fracture in his hand. After he fell asleep, she bound his hands and feet and attempted to have sexual intercourse with him. But the victim suddenly woke up and tried to flee, prosecutors said.

Jeon allegedly struck him in the head with a hammer that she had armed herself with in advance, saying, “Everything is over, I’m going to kill you.” She was also indicted for battery.

“It is a landmark case in which the prosecution indicted a woman for attempted rape,” said a prosecutor.

It was not, however, the first case in which a man was the victim of a rape or attempted rape case since the change in the law. But in the first case last November, the accused rapist was a male. A 19-year-old Army staff sergeant accused his superior, a 27-year-old sergeant first class, of raping him from March to October 2014, and the suspect was prosecuted in November.

Current law says people convicted of rape must be sentenced to at least three years in prison. The previous version of the law was applicable only when a victim was a woman. But someone who tried to have sex with a man against his will could be indicted for an “indecent act by force,” which is punished by less than 10 years in prison or a fine of 15 million won ($13,700) or less.

The revised law also covers transgender people who identify themselves as women but are legally registered as men.

In 1996, the Supreme Court ruled in a case in which a transsexual man was raped that “a rape charge isn’t applicable because transgender people have no reproductive ability.” But it gave a different ruling in a similar case in 2009, saying, “It is acknowledgeable that the suspect violated the right to self-determination of the sexual preference of a person who has lived as a woman for more than 30 years.” The suspect in that case, who was charged with indecent act by force, was again indicted for rape and he was sentenced to a three-year suspended jail sentence.

But women are still most vulnerable to sex crimes. According to the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office, the number of male victims of rape or sexual misconduct by force in 2013 was 1,060, while 23,532 women were victimized.

BY LEE YOO-JEONG [kim.bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]
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