Posted August. 18, 2005 03:05,
The Korean Bar Association (KBA, chaired by Cheon Gi-heung) has expressed its opposition to some of the major articles included in the revision of the law on the punishment for sexual assault and the protection of its victims on August 16, raising conflicting opinions on the bench and within the bar.
The bill allows for punishment in cases of a forced sexual conduct involving violence between husband and wife based on the concept of marital rape.
The KBA made it clear that it opposes the bill in principle, and that a further revision is required if legislated. In particular, the mandated punishment of seven years in prison will make it impossible for the court to hand down suspended terms, which will eventually eliminate any chance of recovering the spousal relationship, the KBA argued.
The current criminal law allows suspended terms only on sentences of three years in prison or less. Even if the court makes allowances for the circumstances and reduces the sentence, the convict will still face three years and six months in prison since the court is only allowed to reduce sentences by a half, which means suspended sentence rulings will be impossible.
However, the KBA faces a strong resistance from female lawyers who argue that marital rape should not be considered as general violence cases that can be simply forgiven, since it is caused by serious and habitual violence that, when neglected, can have a devastating effect on children in the family. They also argued that the opinions of female lawyers were not reflected enough in the decision-making process.