Disclosing Sexual Violence Perpetrators Cannot be Considered Defamation
Disclosing Sexual Violence Perpetrators Cannot be Considered Defamation
  • reported by Cho Lee Yeo-wool cognate@womennews.co.
  • 승인 2002.11.06 00:00
  • 수정 2013-07-12 16:27
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"If a sexual violence case becomes known to outsiders in the process of the victim seeking help from those around her and women groups to solve her problems, this cannot be considered defamation as the victim did not intentionally defame the character of the violator." (Park Seon Young, Research Professor, College of Law, Seoul National University)

On October 22, the Women's Rights Committee of the Lawyers for a Democratic Society, the Committee for Countermeasures against Counter-Lawsuits by Perpetrators of Sexual Violence and the Committee to Deal with Libel Suits against the Anti-Sexual Violence Campaigns organized a forum titled 'The problem with libel suits by sexual violence perpetrators.' At the forum, Professor Park Seon Young revealed that in the recent string of counter-lawsuits filed by perpetrators for defamation, the defendants are not guilty.

As long as it can be proven that the actions taken by the victim, her friends and family, civic groups and the media to publicize the case bear 'public benefits,' factual truth' and 'appropriate grounds,' then the actions cannot be considered defamation of character. According to Professor Park, exposing the sexual violence crimes of influential people such as governors, professors and unionists bears sufficient 'public benefits' as such action becomes important material in criticizing or assessing the leaders of society.

Actions such as putting up wall posters on the campus or at the workplace to diagnose problems and search for solutions are also 'publicly beneficial,' since the relationship between the victim and perpetrator of sexual violence is a superior-subordinate or power relationship and the action was taken to point out a structural problem and establish healthy gender awareness. 

Furthermore, if a civic group intervenes in a sexual violence case or a media reports the case based on the victim's statement and the actual circumstances, they cannot be charged with defamation as they had 'appropriate grounds' to believe that the case was true, even if they did not have direct material evidence. Park emphasized, "In a situation where it is usually impossible to provide material evidence, the victim risks all sorts of censure and danger to reveal their case. Joining hands with such victims and putting their cases on the social agenda is the very reason civic groups and the media exist."

Regarding the case where a stalker filed a libel suit against his victim for publicizing the judge's decision on a women group's website, Park said, "The women group did not have any intention to slander the stalker, and it was not misappropriating another person's name, photograph or telephone number but simply posting an official document on its website. Thus the group cannot be guilty of 'cyber defamation.'"

Park went on to say, "The recent counter-lawsuits filed by perpetrators of sexual violence against the victims, civic groups or the media for defamation or false accusations must be suppressed, as they are filed with the bad intention of continuously harassing the victim in the name of law. Furthermore, the victims should be given compensation for being unjustly accused."

It follows that cases where professors facing disciplinary action in their universities or perpetrators found guilty by the courts file lawsuits against their victims, as well as the case where a poet filed a libel suit against The Women's News for criticizing the backward gender awareness of men in the literary circle, would all fall into the category of 'unjust accusations.'

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