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Tougher punishment for child sex offenders

Posted September. 04, 2012 23:10,   


A first-grader in Naju County, South Jeolla Province, was kidnapped while covered in her blanket while sleeping at her own home with her family and brutally raped. What a truly horrendous and gruesome incident. Just what kind of person can commit such merciless crime against a helpless 7-year-old girl?

Police caught and are questioning the 23-year-old man suspected of the crime. A resident of her neighborhood, Goh Jong-seok is not believed to be a person of sound mind and body. He said, “I committed the crime under the influence of alcohol,” but might have drank to allow himself to more easily commit the crime. Cho Doo-soon, who raped an elementary school girl while intoxicated in 2008, was sentenced to 12 years in prison. Many blasted his punishment as too light, saying he deserved at least 120 years. This is in stark contrast with the situation in the U.S., where those who commit sex crimes against minors are subject to punishment far more severe than those of other ordinary crimes. The Korean people are angry and say their society`s leniency toward excessive drinking and sex crimes involving men has created a “republic of sexual violence.” Habitual sex offenders who are released after serving their prison terms often commit the same crimes again. Korea needs to isolate such criminals for a long time and ensure that even if they finish their prison terms, they must take medical treatment to suppress their sexual urges.

Police say the number of sex crimes, including rapes, sexual assaults and harassment, has increased every year from 13,396 cases in 2007 to 15,017 in 2008, 18,256 in 2010, and 19,498 in 2011. Sex crimes grew 6.7 percent between 2010 and 2011, the highest among the five major crimes such as murder and robbery. Notably, the number of rapes and sexual assaults against children and teenagers has constantly grown from 857 in 2007 to 1,359 in 2009 and 2,054 last year. Of the 946 sex crimes against children under age 13 committed in the second half of 2011, 43 percent of the offenders were given suspended prison terms by lower courts, illustrating how lenient Korean laws and regulations are on sex crimes. If the victims of such crimes were relatives of police and judges, would law enforcement be so lenient on the perpetrators? The penalty standardization committee under the Supreme Court is devising new sentencing standards that will reject mental instability as a cause for a lighter punishment. Yet the people are tired of waiting for such an overdue measure.

Most child sex offenders are psychopaths or socially awkward people who failed to form proper relationships with adults. The term “Lolita syndrome” was coined from the novel “Lolita,” in which one of the main characters has a sexual preference for teenage girls, but this is hardly an appropriate term. Kim Jeom-deok, who raped and killed an elementary school girl in Tongyeong, South Gyeongsang Province, was a child pornography fanatic. Korea has had virtually no crackdown on child pornography. Police must closely investigate whether the Naju suspect frequented an Internet café to play games or watched child pornography that led to him committing the rape.