By Bae Ji-sook
Doctors and lawyers are banding together to give better assistance and advice to child rape victims, who do not just suffer from mental and physical injuries from the attack, but are also often forced to cope with awkward questioning by investigators.
The two groups are launching a "mobile team" with the mission of providing immediate medical help for the victim and guiding them through questioning.
The Korean Medical Association (KMA) and the Korean Bar Association (KBA) held a joint press conference Wednesday to announce their aid package.
Female doctors will take immediate measures including treatment and collecting medical evidence as well as helping with the rehabilitation processes. Lawyers will provide legal counseling pro bono for the victims.
A task force composed of members from both groups will work as a control tower to coordinate their activities.
This is the first time they have joined forces for "practical measures" to deal with a social issue.
"The awareness of the seriousness of child molestation is higher than ever, but the extent of the pain and trauma the victims are suffering isn't fully understood, thus not well addressed," KMA President Kyung Man-ho said.
Kyung also said that his group is asking the government to protect doctors from any threats or attacks by the perpetrators of the crimes, as their diagnosis and advice has the biggest influence in trials.
The lawyers' group is planning to sign a memorandum of understanding with the government and provide details about how to protect the victims and their families from the criminals in legal ways.
Their moves came as a series of child molestation cases have been poorly handled, triggering public outrage.
The Supreme Court earlier this year confirmed a 12 year-imprisonment term on 57-year-old Cho Doo-sun for having raped a nine-year-old girl. The girl suffered from injuries that will affect her throughout her life.
While the public sentiment called for harsher punishment, the court came up with what the public saw an act of leniency, accepting the defendant's plea that he acted under the influence of alcohol.
The KBA filed a 30 million won- damage suit against the Seoul Central Prosecutors' Office Tuesday on behalf of the victim, arguing that the prosecutor in the case mishandled it.
It claims that the prosecution had repeatedly called the young victim for questioning causing her enormous and unnecessary stress.
Meanwhile, a bill is being introduced to introduce heavier sentences, including chemical castration, for rapists who prey on children.