Backsliding into Ancient Greece?
Backsliding into Ancient Greece?
  • Yang Jeong Ja / Director of Korea Family Legal Ser
  • 승인 2001.09.12 00:00
  • 수정 2013-07-12 16:27
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Ask any ordinary citizen, "Is prostitution a desirable social phenomenon?" or any woman involved in prostitution, "Do you want to choose prostitution as your life-time career?" How many would answer yes?

Kim Kang Ja, the celebrated woman police chief who declared her intentions to "completely eradicate sexual violence and prostitution and to create a world where youths are safe from crime," went about shutting down all the "ticket coffee shops" (tearooms where hostesses visit clients who buy 'tickets' to deliver coffee and sleep with them) in the area of Okch대n. Kim's war against prostitution of youths was a great strength in the movement to root out prostitution and regain human dignity. However, after her recent acknowledgement of the possibility of licensed prostitution, social trends and court rulings have been moving in the opposite direction of her initial crusade against prostitution.

The Seoul District Court found a man who had sexual intercourse with a minor not guilty because the man did not pay to have sex. And the Daejeon District Court rejected the application of an arrest warrant for a middleman in the sex trade, saying that prostitution is a necessary evil that serves a good social purpose. The Jeonju District Court also refused to agree to the arrest of a brothel keeper who employed a minor and introduced her to clients.

Recently, the Uijeongbu District Court rejected the application of arrest warrants for men who were caught having sexual intercourse with minors or paying them for it. The court's reasons for not detaining the men are that "they are first offenders, their claim that they didn't realize that the girls were minors sounds plausible, and there is no danger of escape or destruction of evidence." 

Since the beginning of history, prostitution has played the role of satisfying only men's sexual needs. The first licensed prostitution in recorded history was in ancient Greece. Licensed prostitution was established 6th century B.C., much to the hearty welcome of all the Greek men.

Since then, policies have been implemented aiming to eradicate prostitution, but the reason why such policies have failed is that prostitution magnifies the differences between men and women. In other words, the male sex drive is much stronger than women's, making all men potential sexual criminals. So people thought that prostitution is a way of protecting the chastity of respectable women. The recent ruling that prostitution is a necessary evil that serves a good social purpose is a way of thinking that existed since ancient Greek times.

Today, men and women are free to build relationships, and women no longer tolerate men's double standards when it comes to chastity. Men and women have to follow the same rules now. Furthermore, Korea prohibits adultery by law. So the rationale that licensed prostitution can protect our families is unacceptable. 

In order to eradicate prostitution in Korea, we have to first of all do away with the practice of entertaining guests with liquor. And women groups should take the lead. The government should also set an example by starting a campaign to discourage civil servants from going to bars and legislating laws punishing civil servants who frequent hostess bars. 

Laws preventing prostitution should be made to categorize intermediaries and exploiters in the sex trade as serious criminals. And the law should punish the men who become consumers in the sex trade. In addition, instead of punishing the women involved in prostitution, the state should establish a program where they are regarded as the victims and helped to break free from prostitution. It is only then that Korea can become a country that truly respects human rights.

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