Sexual violence of Lee Yoon-taek, former stage director of Yeonhee Theatre Troupe, has been revealed by the Me-too movement. Shocking cases include a woman who had been sexually harassed by him for seven years after joining the troupe right after high-school graduation and another woman who was raped by him in 2001 and 2002 at the age of 20. And most shockingly, there was a woman who was raped by Lee in 2005 and had to have an abortion after getting pregnant.
Sexual harassment and sexual assault (rape) are crimes subject to punishment by law. But the problem is their statute of limitations. The statute of limitations for both crimes is 10 years. But in case the victim is under-aged, the period starts to be calculated from the day the victim reaches the age of majority. Another problem is that sexual offenses were crimes that cannot be prosecuted without a complaint by the victim. This law was abolished on June 19, 2013. But crimes committed before the abolishment cannot be punished without a complaint by the victim even though the limitations period is not over.
The sexual offences by Lee, which have been revealed so far, are committed before 2007. The police launched an investigation into actor Cho Min-kee’s sexual offense cases and troupe director Cho Jeung-yoon’s cases, which all happened after 2013. But the situation is different with the case of Lee Yoon-taek. But a law was legislated on April 15, 2010 to punish repeated sexual harassment. If offences committed after April 15, 2010 are revealed, Lee can be punished by law. As sexual offenders are mostly repeated offenders, they are subject to punishment once it is proved that they repeatedly committed sexual offenses.
Women’s organizations are calling for the abolishment of the statute of limitations for sexual offenses. Some argue that disagreement by a victim, rather than resistance, should be a component that make up a sexual offense. In Germany, mass sexual assaults that took place in the Cologne Square in 2016 changed a relevant law. Now in Germany, it is recognized as rape if it is proved that a victim simply said “no” to the offender. In California, the United States, it is recognized as rape if there is no proof that the victim certainly said yes. There is a lot to do on a national level to create an atmosphere where offenders, rather than the victims, feel ashamed of their offenses.
Su-Jin Cho firstname.lastname@example.org