By Park Si-soo
Sex crimes against children in Korea outnumbered those in Japan by more than three times and Germany by nearly nine times, but a great number of such cases here ended up being unsettled as victims are reluctant to undergo police investigations.
The finding, released Monday, is based on a comparative research on sex crimes reported between 2005 and 2008 in Britain, the United States, Japan, Germany and Korea. The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family and the Korean Institute of Criminology jointly conducted the research.
The finding came amid soaring public outcry following a series of brutal child rape cases in recent months that have propelled the government and politicians to overhaul what people see as soft punishments meted out to such sexual predators.
In response, the National Assembly has passed bills on the chemical castration of certain criminals guilty of sex crimes and the court has made more convicted sex offenders, who have served their time in prison, wear electronic anklets to monitor their movements to try and prevent them from re-offending.
With the government and legislators considering introducing additional measures, the sobering research is expected to give more momentum to the move.
According to the research, 8.6 sexual crimes against minors were reported per every 100,000 people in Korea in 2008, up from 8.0 in 2005. The United States also showed a moderate increase during the period — 6.2 cases in 2008 from 5.8 cases in 2005.
But three other nations saw their child sex crimes decrease.
Of them, Britain showed the steepest drop to 5.1 cases in 2008 from 6.7 cases in 2005. Germany maintained its status as the country with the lowest child sex crimes — 1 case in 2008, down from 1.3 in 2005.
Another new finding by the research was Korean victims were much more reluctant to report their nightmarish experience to police than those in the other countries, a factor exacerbating the situation further.
Only one out of 168 victims contacted the police. In Britain, one out of 12.2 victims report their cases to police, while in the United States, one out of 2.7 victims did so, the research showed.
“Given this reluctance, the actual number of child sex crimes in Korea could be far higher than the number officially reported,” said Kang Eun-kyung, a senior researcher at the criminology institute.