Commission releases students’ sexist texts

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Commission releases students’ sexist texts

Private text messages in which Seoul National University (SNU) students sexually degraded women have been disclosed to the public, sparking concerns over entrenched sexism among the nation’s youth and rights to privacy.

A human rights commission for students and socially vulnerable groups at SNU revealed that for the last six months eight male students from the university’s liberal arts department posted text messages in their private KakaoTalk chat rooms in which they sexually objectified women.

“I’m hungry… do you have anything to eat?” read one of the messages.

Another replied, “Then eat [a female student’s name].”

One student referred to a female fifth grader as “Lolin-i,” a portmanteau of “Lolita” and eorini or “kid.”

“I want to touch her breasts and run away,” read another message.

“The perpetrators made offensive comments and then tried to justify their offenses,” the university’s human rights commission said. “Since the messages were sexist and abusive toward women, we have decided to release them to the public for discussion.”

But some students have criticized the commission’s invasion of privacy.

“It’s not a big crime to make such statements in KakaoTalk group chat rooms,” read a comment in the university’s online community, SNULife. “But it’s a big crime for the human rights commission to reveal private messages to the public.”

“What justification does the human rights commission have for making these messages public?” read another comment. “The human rights commission is infringing on the human rights of these students.”

This comes only one month after a similar scandal broke involving Korea University students, raising concerns over the prevalence of sexism among the nation’s youth.

In early June, a Korea University student reported to the media the sexist content of a series of KakaoTalk texts by eight male students.“If there’s a pretty freshman in the welcoming party,” read one of the messages, “let’s get her drunk and sleep with her.”

The students even shared pictures of women they had discretely taken at subway stations, according to a university commission established to support the victims who were harassed by the eight students. The commission also found that some of the eight students had worked in the school’s gender equality center.

Yeom Jae-ho, the university’s president, promised to establish a special committee to investigate the case and take punitive measures against the students. This scandal overshadows the case at SNU and has caused some to focus on the content of the messages rather than the relevant privacy concerns.

“It’s not just dirty talk,” commented one user on SNULife. “The text messages illuminate a much larger problem in our society.”

SNU’s human rights commission said it will investigate the students involved in the case and take strict disciplinary measures against them.

BY SHIN SOO-YEON, CHAE YUN-KYUNG [shin.sooyeon@joongang.co.kr]

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