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2017-11-23 16:36
Moon shows resolve on crackdown of workplace offenses

Recently, there have been many media reports of sexual offenses at workplaces in various sectors.

Hallym University Medical Center came under fire last week for its alleged inappropriate treatment of some of its nurses during an annual talent show in September. A video of the show, where the nurses were dancing in revealing clothes, went viral on YouTube. Some nurses complained on a Facebook page that they were pressured to take part in the event.

The Hallym case stirred controversy after other sexual harassment cases at big companies made headlines earlier this month. A new female employee at Hanssem, the nation’s largest furniture company, raised accusations of rape and sexual harassment in an online community. A female contract worker with Hyundai Card also raised accusations of sexual assault.

There has also been some very disturbing news on sexual crimes against women in the military and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Several Korean embassies abroad have come under fire for allegations of sexual assaults by diplomats. In May, a female lieutenant committed suicide after she was reportedly raped by a superior.

President Moon Jae-in has taken notice of the series of sex crimes against women, voicing during a Cabinet meeting Tuesday his resolve to crack down on workplace offenses. “I can clearly say that the heads of public agencies will be held responsible for not dealing sternly with sexual violence,” Moon said.

In Korea, there is a widespread culture of silencing victims of sexual harassment. Moon mentioned a survey by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family that showed almost 80 percent of victims choose not to make an issue out of what they went through. Many said they chose to remain quiet about the abuse because they felt that raising the issue would not help resolve the situation. Some victims are also afraid to speak out for fear of facing disadvantages at work or additional violence from the perpetrators.

The status of Korean women has improved and more are entering the workforce, but they continue to face widespread workplace sexual harassment. The main problem is many workplaces still retain a very lax attitude toward sexual harassment. For example, Hyundai Card allegedly tried to brush off the sexual harassment allegations as “a private matter between two people in a relationship.”

It is time for workplaces to get rid of the shameless perceptions that sexual harassment is not a grave issue and that it is okay to degrade and abuse women.

Laws need to be enforced to make it mandatory for all workplaces to conduct education on sexual harassment prevention and levy heavy punishment on bosses who neglect to deal strictly with in-house sexual violence.

 

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