South Korea fails to tackle digital sex crimes, HRW says | News | DW | 16.06.2021
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South Korea fails to tackle digital sex crimes, HRW says

The sharing of intimate pictures without permission is a huge problem in South Korea, according to Human Rights Watch. These crimes typically target women.

South Koreans protest against sexism and spycam pornography

South Koreans protest against sexism and spycam pornography

South Korean authorities are failing to tackle the rise in digital sex crimes, according to a report published by Human Rights Watch (HRW) Wednesday.

The inability to tackle abuse has taken a toll on young women and girls who find themselves at the center of the problem without adequate avenues of redressal.

What is digital sex crime?

Digital sex crime refers to sharing intimate pictures and videos without the permission of the people involved, most often women.

In South Korea, spy cameras, also known as "molka," are frequently installed in public spaces to film women without their consent. "Revenge porn," or nonconsensual pornography, often posted online by scorned exes, is also common.

Spycams have become so prevalent that female police officers regularly inspect public toilets, HRW reported. Women also avoid using the amenities altogether.

What did the report say?

The report said that women and young girls find it difficult to pursue criminal cases related to online gender-based violence.

Despite being the world's 12th-largest economy and a technological superpower, South Korea remains a largely male-dominated society.

As a result of sexism remaining deeply entrenched in society, women face major barriers to justice.

"The criminal legal system — [run mostly by] men — often seems to simply not understand, or not accept, that these are very serious crimes," said Heather Barr, the author of the report.

South Korean women hold up placards to protest rise in sexual violence

South Koreans demand stronger government action against digital sexual violence, 2018

She published the report after conducting 38 interviews with digital sex crime survivors and experts. Barr also conducted an online survey.

Harrowing experience for survivors

Digital sex crimes deeply affected the lives of young women, an alarming number of whom had considered suicide, according to the report.

Those interviewed said they felt anxious about hidden cameras in public and even their homes.

Even though South Korea's government have taken some important steps to reform laws and provide services to survivors of sexual abuse, these still fall short because they fail to grapple with the deep roots of gender inqeuity at the heart of the problem.

rm/rt (AFP, dpa)