The Public Prosecutors Office (Prosecutor General Lee Myong Jae) sent to investigative agencies such as prosecutors and the police new guidelines concerning the investigation and trial of prostitution-related crimes. The guidelines contain instructions to inform both parties during the investigation that debts sex workers owe brothel keepers are considered invalid.
The guidelines also instruct investigators to ?photograph any facilities for spying on or detaining sex workers discovered during crack downs ?verify employment conditions or debt status by confiscating relevant account books or logs ?watch out for youths with false ID cards or passports ?check if the housing structure is illegal by photographing fire prevention and electrical facilities.
The guidelines make it clear that debts incurred by sex workers, regardless of how they were incurred for food, clothing, penalty for being late, deposit, fines and so on must all be ignored. This particular part of the guidelines is considered a revolutionary measure to protect the human rights of sex workers. Article 20 of the Prevention of Prostitution, etc. Act stipulates that any rights as a creditor held by a person who has mediated, forced or cooperated in the prostitution of women for profit shall be invalid. But until now, this clause has never been applied in reality. Because of this, women who attempted to escape from the violence and imprisonment of prostitution were actually sued by the brothel keepers for fraud and defaulting on loans, thus becoming ensnared in a vicious circle of being punished by law or forced back into prostitution.
The Public Prosecutors Office has also instructed that persons who forced or introduced women into prostitution be pursued and arrested at all costs, after which the guilty parties will be charged with not only violation of the Prevention of Prostitution Act but also imprisonment and human trafficking, so that they will be given the maximum penalty possible upon trial.
Concurring with such moves, legislator Cho Soon Hyung (New Millennium Democratic Party) of the National Assemblys Legislative Committee revealed on September 22, For the first time in the legal history of Korea, Prosecutor Gu Ja Hyun of the Sangju Branch, Daegu District Public Prosecutors Office, arrested and indicted a brothel keeper based on the Punishment of Violences, etc. Act and the Employment Security Act. The brothel keeper had been found guilty of exploiting two sex workers using an I.O.U. for the 15 ~16 million Won they owed.
This change in the attitude of prosecutors can be interpreted as their response to the rising call for social solutions to the problem of prostitution, a problem that came under the spotlight when the life of slavery forced on sex workers was revealed through investigations into two consecutive fires in the Gunsan red-light district.
Comments an officer with the police force, The rationale that debts related to prostitution do not apply because prostitution itself is illegal has long been propounded by women groups, lawyer Bae Geum Ja and the head of the National Police Agencys Women and Youth Bureau Kim Gang Ja. But what is noteworthy is that for the first time, prosecutors, the ones with the actual legal authority of indictment, have come up with guidelines that follow this rationale.