Posted October. 02, 2009 15:28,
Experts yesterday said the governments financial support for an eight-year-old girl raped by a habitual sex offender is inadequate for her physical and psychological suffering.
In the wake of public disgust over the crime, calls are growing for improving the support system for victims of sexual assault and abuse.
○ Support funds for victim
The victim, identified only as Na-young, can receive up to 14.6 million won (12,425 U.S. dollars) in government aid, the Justice Ministry and the city government of Ansan, Gyeonggi Province said yesterday. The money is considered a disproportionately small amount given the expenses needed for her physical and psychological treatment.
A public help center for crime victims in Ansan paid the victims family three million won (2,550 dollars) shortly after the incident in December last year. The center also got the family a discount from eight million won (6,811 dollars) to six million won (5109 dollars) for hospital and operation fees.
Ansan also provided three million won through an emergency medical support system run by the Health, Welfare and Family Affairs Ministry, and 600,000 won (510 dollars) from a medical assistance system operated by the province.
Ansan also tried to get back its financial support after hearing that the victims family received 40 million won (34,000 dollars) in private insurance payments. Under heavy criticism from netizens, however, the city government opted not to get the money back.
The Justice Ministry pays up to six million won (5,100 dollars) to crimes victims who suffer from a disability. The sum was raised to 10 million won (8,510 dollars) in April. The victim will get six million won since the crime occurred before April. In addition, her family will get the money several months later because the government pays support funds when a victim is officially found to have a disability.
Many people have volunteered to help the child and Ansan, and Community Chest of Korea is receiving donations to assist her. Donations can be made by calling 031-481-2921. Major Web portal sites such as Naver and Daum are also raising funds for the victim.
○ Justice Ministry in trouble
The Justice Ministry, which is in charge of helping victims of crimes, is in trouble for failure to come up with additional measures to prevent sexual assault on children. The government has implemented measures such as electronic tracking devices and the disclosure of the personal information of child molesters, but the public wants stronger action taken.
The prison sentence for child molesters was significantly raised after the abduction and murder of two schoolgirls in Gyeonggi Province last year. The National Assembly revised a law on punishing sex crimes and protecting their victims in June last year to toughen penalties on rapists who prey on girls under 13 from five years to seven years. The penalty for those who committing a similar crime was also raised to five years from three years.
A law requiring child sex offenders to wear electronic anklets for up to 10 years also took effect last month. The personal information of child molesters will also be released on the Web from January next year.
A ministry official said, We urged the Supreme Court to raise the sentence for sex offenders against children, adding, We are also considering offering more support funds for crime victims and expanding the scope of recipients.
Justice Minister Lee Kwi-nam also sent to the victims family a gift certificate.