Recently, improvements have been made to the system of medical assistance for victims of sexual violence, and the government and political parties agreed to better protect the human rights of such victims in the process of police investigations. The government also came up with a comprehensive plan for the prevention of violence against women. All these moves have added to the overall framework of support measures for women victimized by sexual violence.
An association governing shelters for victims of sexual violence has been formed, and a similar association for victims of domestic violence is also on its way, providing victimized women with more professional and practical help.
The government, together with the Millennium Democratic Party, United Liberal Democrats and Democratic People's Party, held a government-party meeting on August 24. At the meeting, which was attended by government officials such as the Minister of Health and Welfare, Minister of Gender Equality and the Chief of Police, public and private medical institutions were commissioned as the "(tentatively named) Medical Support Center for Victims of Sexual Violence."
This Center will provide separate space for the treatment of victims in order to protect their identity, and run a round-the-clock team of professional medical support team. Also, cases of sexual violence will be designated by the Ministry of Health and Welfare as quasi-emergency cases, preventing medical institutions from refusing such patients and offering victims the medical services due emergency victims including the use of emergency vans.
The government and parties also decided to step up protection of the human rights of sexual violence victims during the process of police investigations. To this end, police performance evaluation from the fourth quarter of 2001 will increase the points received for rounding up sexual violence suspects from 2 points to 3.
The Korea Women's Development Institute drafted a comprehensive plan for the prevention of violence against women and held a public hearing on August 27. The panel discussed ways to increase social censure of sexual violence and to revise current laws dealing with violence against women.
Regarding the improvement of the 'sexual violence bill,' some of the suggestions are △abolishing the requirement of formal complaint from the victim in oder to start prosecution △abolishing the time limit on reporting crimes and extending the statute of limitations △strengthening punishment of sexual violence △supplementing the stipulations regarding sexual violence against disabled women △executing laws oriented towards the victim △changing the definition of victim of rape in the laws from 'women' to 'men and women' △diversifying cases of punishable crimes of sexual violence against youths △legally acknowledging rape between married couples.
Lively discussions were held during the public hearing on a variety of measures, including policy support for women emergency hotlines, strengthening practical support for victims such as providing school fees for children of victims, developing programs to involve the offender in therapy, combining the counselling centers for sexual violence and domestic violence, strengthening training and re-training for social workers, and so on.
The draft of the comprehensive plan for the prevention of violence against women will be revised and supplemented before it is formally announced in October as the 'Comprehensive Measures for the Eradication of Violence against Women.'
On the same day as the public hearing, staff and members of shelters for sexual violence victims gathered to inaugurate the 'Association of Shelters for Victims of Sexual Violence.' (headed by Choi Young Ae) As an association of 82 counselling centers and 7 shelters nationwide, the Association will be established as a formal commission under the Ministry of Gender Equality. The country will be divided into 7 zones, which will continuously exchange information and work together to improve services for sexual violence victims.