Women Vulnerable in Criminal Procedure
Women Vulnerable in Criminal Procedure
  • reported byShin Ah-Ryeung arshin@womennews.co.kr
  • 승인 2002.12.16 00:00
  • 수정 2013-07-12 16:27
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An opinion has recently emerged claiming that women, whose rights ought to be protected by the law, are vulnerable in criminal procedure, which is dominated by male-oriented mentality. This is particularly so in sexual violence cases in which women, who are supposed to be protected, often become the target of censure, suffering more than the sexual violence itself by being made to feel guilty during the investigations for "not having resisted enough."

This is the opinion illustrated by Seoul National University law professor Cho Kuk in the material she prepared for the seminar on 'the protection of vulnerable groups in criminal procedures' to be held on December 10 on the 12th anniversary of the death of lawyer Cho Young-Rae (organized by the Public Good and Human Rights Law Research Center, Seoul National University). Through the material, professor Cho harshly criticizes the male-oriented ideology prevalent in criminal procedure.

According to Cho, "investigative authorities maintain neutrality and coldly deal with facts, but this 'neutrality' is already directly and indirectly tainted with the male-oriented ideology that dominates views on sexual violence." Claims Cho, "In order to prevent the double victimization of the women involved, authorities must acknowledge that the victim is the only witness in rape cases where there are typically no eye-witnesses."

Cho also points out, "For the victim, who is already mentally and physically battered, going through the investigation is in itself another form of suffering. It is only natural for victims, suffering from so-called 'rape syndrome,' to be passive, reluctant or inconsistent in their statements to the police."

Cho emphasized that downplaying the credibility of the victim's statement based on her attire, profession or lifestyle, or alluding that the victim 'asked to be raped' by say, wearing a provocatively short skirt, is utter nonsense and a serious violation of the woman's privacy and human dignity.

Cho also pointed out that "in a situation dominated by distorted views, more obstacles await victims who brave the disadvantageous reality to make police reports." She stressed, "Rather than offering victims encouragement and consolation, criminal procedure ironically makes them targets of more suspicion and censure, resulting in 'double victimization.'"

In particular, when investigators take statements from the victims, they ask such questions as 'whether the rape suspect ejaculated,' 'how long the penis remained in the vagina,' and 'how the victim felt in the process.' Investigators also concentrate on finding out if the victim put up a substantial resistance, forcing the victim to feel a shared sense of guilt for the crime inflicted on her.

According to Cho, "In a sexual violence case in Korea, it is not just the suspect but also the victim who is put on trial. A woman's 'right of sexual self-determination' is accepted in theory, but in reality, the court often focuses on totally irrelevant issues."

Cho concludes, "With rape prevention laws existing in Western countries including the US as a point of reference, we urgently need to legislate laws that pursue the suspect's guilt rather than the victim's morality. It is when such efforts are made that we can reduce the women's suffering in the currently male-dominated criminal procedure. "

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