AHEAD of International Women’s Day on March 8, President Moon Jae-in of South Korea has praised the #MeToo movement for standing up against sexual violence.
Speaking at an International Women’s Day event on Saturday, Moon congratulated the Me Too movement for highlighting the issue of discrimination and violence against women which he said threatened the community and South Korea’s democracy.
“With the Me Too movement, our society is in the midst of a crucial change,” Moon said as quoted by South Korea’s news agency Yonhap. “The movement is leading Korea toward a society in which sexual equality and women’s rights are realised and the dignity of all people is respected.”
South Korea has high rates of domestic and sexual violence, with a 2017 study by the Korean Institute of Criminology finding that 8 in 10 men admitted to perpetrating violence against their partners.
Some 37.9 percent of respondents said that abuse of their partners involved sexual harassment.
“We are now reflecting how deeply the structure of sexual discrimination is entrenched in our society and are facing up to the reality that this is by nature about routine discrimination and oppression against vulnerable people,” said Moon.
Sparked by public prosecutor Seo Ji-hyeon going public in January with allegations that former Justice Minister had groped her at a funeral in 2010, the Me Too movement has rapidly gained traction in the East Asian nation during 2018.
It has now seen several prominent figures in popular culture accused of abuse against women.
“K-pop acts have really reversed the notion with their global fame and recognition, but there is this hidden assumption that people will be sexually abusive and abused in entertainment,” Suk-Young Kim, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles recently told Billboard.
Over the weekend, Koreans gathered at Gwanghwamun Plaza in Seoul to call attention to women’s issues in what remains a socially conservative society.
The Korean Women’s Association called upon the government to increase penalties for sexual crimes, reported Yonhap, releasing a statement that read: “The problems concern not only the perpetrators of such crimes but also the structure of discrimination, abetment and silence that made them possible. It is time for the state to answer to the voices of these women.”
Seoul’s police department last year vowed to double the number of officers that handle domestic violence cases and implement stronger measures to protect victims of abuse.