Yesterday, the National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHRC) reported that not only male officers but also female officers are involved in sexual harassment against female prisoners. The research was conducted after the case of K, who killed herself after experiencing sexual abuse by a male officer last February. The NHRC visited five rehabilitation institutions for women, including one in Cheongju, where 969 are detained.
According to the survey, 143 (20 percent) out of 732 prisoners who agreed to take the survey said they have experienced sexually mortifying acts or sexual violence in prison. Twenty-one of the respondents said they suffered humiliation from dirty jokes, 14 of them by being an object of ridicule, 13 of them by physical contacts, four of them by flirting, and one by forceful kisses and hugs.
Out of 110 respondents who gave an answer to the question about the offender, 60 or 55 percent answered the offender was a female officer. Also, other inmates (21 or 19 percent), male officers (11 or 10 percent), and others (18 or 16 percent) turned out to be the wrongdoers.
Prisoners are most vulnerable to sexual violence when they go through physical examination on entering the jail. The research found 331 of the respondents felt humiliated during physical checkups, which is the responsibility of female officers, said the NHRC.
The physical checkups often took place in not designated areas but in offices. Officers made prisoners naked and sit down and stand up numerous times and even checked hygienic bands when the prisoners were going through a menstruation period. The violation of human rights is at an alarming rate, added the NHRC.