By Bae Ji-sook
The number of sexual assaults on women with mental retardation is increasing at an alarming pace. Human rights activists are calling for stiffer punishment for the attackers.
Officers at the Gyeongbuk Metropolitan Police Station recently apprehended two men for separate cases of rape on mentally retarded teenagers.
According to the investigators, an unidentified 41-year-old man raped a 15-year-old school girl, who was a relative of his wife and had stayed at his place to attend a special school, for over three years. The girl was only 10 when he first started the abuse.
Another 56-year-old man enticed a 15-year-old girl near a church yard by offering her some biscuits. He coerced her into his car and raped her. He also threatened to tell her parents.
“While society is getting stricter on pedophiles, we are still less aware of mentally challenged people. We need to be on special alert,” said Lee Soo-yong, an officer at the station.
The two cases are just the tip of the iceberg as there are crimes of this kind reported in the nation nearly every day.
The number of cases reported to the Women with Disabilities Empathy for counseling jumped from 510 in 2008 to 838 in 2009 and 570 in the first half of 2010.
The number is expected to easily surpass 1,000 this year. Of the 570 cases, 63 percent were against mentally disabled women.
Women’s rights activists point out that the current system allows a loophole to offenders against mentally-vulnerable women.
Under the law, sexual attackers of disabled people receive additional punishment. However, the court often shows leniency to rapists of mentally challenged people since “mental disabilities are hard to verify.”
“You need to have a government-authorized grading system to be acknowledged as a person with a disability. In court, she needs to prove her retardation through various performance and other screening processes. Also, one needs to prove that she had ‘strived hard to resist’ the crime, in order to get the incident acknowledged as a rape case,” said Hwang Ji-sung, consultant at the disabled women’s rights group.
“But these mentally retarded women have a hard time expressing either of these things. In the end, in most cases, judges do not confirm their mental status and impose no heavier punishment on the offender.”
Hwang said relevant groups are preparing to protest the system. “We are planning a press conference to raise public awareness on the issue and will hold signature collection campaigns to lobby experts. We believe mental retardation should be protected and respected as with any other disabilities,” she said.
지적장애여성 상대 성범죄 급증
지적장애를 가진 여성을 대상으로 하는 성범죄가 무서운 속도로 증가하고 있다. 인권운동가들은 이들을 가중처벌해야 한다고 주장하고 있다.
경북경찰서는 최근에 각각 지적장애를 가진 청소년들을 강간한 혐의로 두 남성을 체포했다.
수사관들에 의하면 신원이 밝혀지지 않은 41세의 남성은 자기 처가친척인 15살 여학생을 삼 년 넘게 강간했다. 그의 첫 범행 시 피해자는 겨우 10살이었다.
또 다른 56세 남성은 한 15살짜리 소녀에게 교회 근처에서 과자로 유혹했다. 그리고 차로 끌고 가서 강간했고, 부모에게 이르지 말라고 협박했다.