[Joint Statement] The Government should respond to the #MeToo movement with actual measures!

 

After the sexual violence incident in the Prosecution Service was disclosed in January 29th, the #MeToo movement has expanded towards various sectors of the society. This pouring of “Me Too” is Korean women’s sympathetic and communal response to the social structural violence, not to an individual unlucky experience. To change the structure, #MeToo movement has extended to #WithYou movement. President Moon Jae-in stated on 26th that “I support (the #MeToo movement)” and that the Government will come up with proper measures. On 27th, the Government announced “Complementary Policy against Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence in the Public Institutions” with the establishment of a cross-government council with the Minister of Gender Equality and Family as a chair.

 

 

This policy includes the opening of Sexual Violence Complaint Center in the public institutions during one hundred days from March, the expulsion of perpetrator from the public office who gets punished by the fine or more, Sexual Violence Complaint Online Center for universities and schools, supporting system for victim such as free legal aid and psychotherapy aid, and the recommendation of hiring nongovernmental experts to deal with sexual harassment issue within the public institutions. Korean Women’s Associations United welcomes the Government’s will to resolve the problem and its coming up with various measures. However, we raise a question how much these policies can produce actual effects.

 

 

This policy focuses only on the public institutions. What does the Ministry of Employment and Labor do? As we can see from the Hansaem incident, sexual violence prevails in the nongovernmental areas as well. It is very doubtful if the Government has enough will to solve the problem. The Government should announce a policy not only for the public offices but also for the private sectors.

 

 

Also, the Government need to inspect the existing petition process before establishing a new Complaint Center. Hiring nongovernmental experts to deal with sexual harassment issue within the public institutions should be mandatory, not just recommended, and the civilian experts should strengthen monitoring the petition-response process to prevent re-victimization.

 

 

In response to many victims’ fear of counteraccusation and re-victimization, the Government should clearly deliver its will to help victims speaking up. In so doing, voice-restricting laws such as false accusation and defamation regarding facts with hostility should be reconsidered and revised.

 

 

Victims courageously place petitions despite the hostile social atmosphere with suspicion, because they want the perpetrators to be properly punished and they want the society without sexual violence. We urge the Government to declare its strong will to punish perpetrators to help victims getting over.

 

 

In order to effectively implement the various policies announced, the Government should vest the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family with actual authority to control the matter. Other than the cross-government council, each related department also should construct an effective response system to problem. 

 

 

Women in the last Candlelight square urged the removal of sexist social culture and sexual violence as well as the regime change. It is time for the society to answer to these women’s demand. We hope the recent movements of #SexualViolenceWithinOOO and #MeToo provide the foundation for the uprooting of sexism and sexual violence in Korean society. We will keep inspecting the Government and other social groups and urging them to come up with actual measures.

 

 

2018. 02. 28.

 

Korean Women’s Associations United

Seven regional branches and twenty-eight affiliated associations

 

 

Posted by KWWA

[Remark] The Complementary Policy Needs Total Complement—Towards “Complementary Policy against Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence in the Public Institutions”

 

 

The Government announced “Complementary Policy against Sexual Harassment and Sexual Violence in the Public Institutions” in February 27th. It includes the expulsion of perpetrator, the opening of the Sexual Violence Complaint Center during one hundred days from March, and the establishment of a cross-government council with the Minister of Gender Equality and Family as a chair. However, this is not the time to devise a policy exclusively for the public institutions. It is time for exhaustive, revolutionary, and fundamental measures. The Government does not understand the gravity of this issue. In a recent Blue House petition, more than two hundred people are urging for the mandatory feminist education in elementary, middle, and high schools. To this fundamental measure proposed by the people, the Government does not even respond.

 

 

Let’s take a look at the complementary policy announced. Yes, a cross-governmental control tower is necessary. Yes, we agree the idea of having the Minister of Gender Equality and Family as a chair. Yet, the problem lies on the small size of the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family. Its budget scale is equivalent only to 0.42% of the Ministry of Justice, 1.87% of the Ministry of Health and Welfare, and 9.33% of the Ministry of Employment and Labor. Ministry of Gender Equality and Family also lacks human resources to implement policies. The Government announced that it would take measures to the incidents reported in an online platform of the Women’s Human Rights Institute of Korea, but there is no plan to expand budget and people for implementing the measure. Ministry of Gender Equality and Family cannot work as a control tower without the actual strengthening of its position within the governmental structure, and without more budget and more people.

 

 

Equality Hotline of the Korean Women Workers Association received 672 calls in 2017 about sexual harassment at work. 56.5% of these calls came from small-scale workplaces with less-than-thirty workers. Female workers tend to have jobs at small-scale workplaces. Bosses occupy 60.5% of the perpetrators in workplace with less-than-four workers and 55.6% of the perpetrators in workplace with five-to-nine workers. Within this structure, it is very difficult even to separate perpetrator and victim at work and take actual measures. The first place any governmental policy should turn to is not the most easily manageable sector but the blind spots like these.

 

 

The current procedures for sexual harassment in the workplace have serious problems. The Prosecution Service indicted only 9 out of 2,190 cases reported to the Ministry of Employment and Labor from 2012 to 2016. Only 298 cases were punished by the fine. Sometimes, labor inspectors, who are in full charge of the judgement of sexual harassment at work, provoked re-victimization. This is why labor inspectors with gender equality consciousness should be more recruited. The Police and the Prosecution Service are no better than labor inspectors in the workplace. Some victims have heard insulting remarks from the very police officers they had asked for help, such as “Cause you are pretty,” or “Your face doesn’t deserve sexual harassment.” There is urgent need for gender equality consciousness among the people in charge of the whole procedure. The branch offices of the Ministry of Employment and Labor should bring back the Women’s Employment Division that the Lee Myung-bak administration abolished. Problems cannot be resolved without proper governmental organization for discussion and implementation.

 

 

Legal amendment should be seriously considered as well—whether the current period of prescription of a public prosecution is too short or not, whether the current penal provisions are too light or not. We should think hard about why penetrators are not properly punished, that is to say, why social justice does not work. Moreover, we also need to critically question the culture of the entire society. Prevalent sexual objectification in mass media and everyday life protects perpetrators and tortures victims. Why does the Government’s gender equal workplace policy focus on public institution only?

 

 

The Government should understand what is at stake right now. Women’s protests are the second Candlelight Revolution. No more sexual violence should be allowed. Women are ready to change the world. The Government should come up with active and exhaustive measures!

 

 

2018. 2. 27

 

Korean Women Workers Association, Seoul Women Workers Association, Inchon Women Workers Association, Puchon Women Workers Association, Ansan Women Workers Association, Suwon Women Workers Association, North Cholla Women Workers Association, Gwangju Women Workers Association, Masan-Changwon Women Workers Association, Pusan Women’s Association, Kyungju Women Workers Association, Daegu Women Workers Association

 

 

Posted by KWWA

 

An urgent discussion session was held in February 27th.

 

It was about the #MeToo movement. The discussion session aimed to reaffirm the significance of the #MeToo movement and collect the voices of women arguing for the violence-less and gender equal society.

 

Even though victims have long tried to speak out their experiences, sexual violence has never been reduced nor stopped. However, in 2018, many women in the art communities, the religious societies, the academia, the legal professional communities, the public institutions, and the private companies are simultaneously revealing sexual violence and sexual harassments they have endured or fought against within their own communities.

 

In dealing with sexual violence incidents, women have witnessed various unjust realities within the communities. Sometimes perpetrators never get punished. Victims become a target of perpetrators’ counteraccusation of defamation or false accusation, which easily ends up stigmatizing the victims as gold-diggers. Press reports and public opinion dismiss sexual violence incidents as private and never hear women’s voices as an issue of gender power structure. Re-victimization prevails under the name of protecting community against the enemy who plots to destroy the community.

 

What should we do under these circumstances? The discussion session delved into this main question. Korean Women Workers Association presided a panel, titled “‘URGENT’ Open Up the Square,” and shared statistical information on working women’s reality which we had acquired through Equality Hotline.

 

Many journalists and participants were crowding the venue and we could feel strong desire and strong will to change the society under the banner of #MeToo.

 

 

 

 

Panelists Lee Nayoung, Kwon-Kim Hyunyoung, Shin Heejoo, Oh Sunghwa, Kim Myungsook, Song Ranhee respectively gave a talk.

 

 

 

Lee Nayoung (Professor, Department of Sociology, Chung-ang University)

“The experience of being a victim gives an important impetus to the reconstruction of self—we do not self-identify as a powerless victim anymore. Rather, we stand up and fight for the righteous change of the unjust institutions.”  

 

 

 

Kwon-Kim Hyunyoung (Feminist Theorist/Activist)

“I feel so proud of the recent wave of women’s voices such as the victims of the sexual violence incident in Hanssem cooperation and within the Prosecution Service. They share their experiences of sexual violence in detail and courageously speak up for the social change. It is a huge advance from the time when the speaking itself was a goal. Now, women know that it is not our fault and that the perpetrators and the society are the ones deserve blame. I believe things can actually change. Thank all of you so much and I will be with you.”

“We need, first, legal revision including punitive compensation for damage, second, the change of social norm, and third, the rejection of charging responsibility on victims.”

 

 

Shin Heejoo (Film director, Women’s Association of Arts and Culture)

“I propose the establishment of a task force in the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism. The recently-disclosed incidents feature the celebrities with huge cultural power in the respective field as perpetrators. Also, the sexual violence was possible under the connivance and even cooperation of the cultural communities. Thorough investigation is mandatory and actual change in policy and institution should follow.”

 

 

 

 

Oh Sunghwa (Creator, Artists’ Action Against Sexual Violence)

 

Kim Myungsook (Korean Women Workers Association, Labor Policy Director)

“Even though the number of petition submitted in the Ministry of Employment and Labor increases year by year, the level of punishment has been brought down. Sexual violence in the workplace cannot be uprooted because of the labor investigators’ lack of gender equal consciousness. According to the Ministry of Employment and Labor, the number of petition about sexual violence at work increased from 249 in 2012 to 556 in 2016. In contrast, the number of workplaces the Ministry of Employment and Labor inspected decreased from 1,132 to 535 during the same period. The number of workplaces caught in the inspection also decreased from 480 to 177.”

“Defamation law is easily abused to threat the victim and conceal the incident. Offence of defamation regarding the facts with hostility should not be applied to sexual violence case at work.”

 

 

 

Song Ranhee (Secretary-General, Korean Women’s Hotline)

“Victims have once again suffered from the manual of defamation and counteraccusation, and now we see the recent wave rising. We should ask why victims cannot but speak anonymously. We should think about how victims have been treated in this society. There is ridiculous understanding of the recent #MeToo movement as a political conspiracy. They should read this historical change. Upcoming local election should be anti-perpetrators of sexual violence. We should declare the advent of a new world. We cannot go back. The world has changed by us, and will do.”

 

After the panel discussion, comments from the floor pointed out the necessity of transformation in law, institution, and community culture. We will continue #WithYou, pursuing a safe and equal world for women. Thank you.

 

proceeding : http://kwwnet.org/?page_id=4517&mod=document&uid=454

Posted by KWWA