March, 30, 2007
Middle school girl gang-raped by classmates: police
Assault underscores need for sex education overhaul, experts say
A group of South Korean male middle school students were arrested for allegedly having repeatedly gang-raped a female classmate on school grounds, sending shockwaves across the nation.
Regarding the alleged attacks, experts say that teenagers are exposed to pornograghic films and images without receiving proper sex education, and thus do not show sensitivity toward sexual violence.
Police said that the sexual assaults began in February, when six male middle school students, all 14, in Gapyeong, Gyeonggi Province allegedly coaxed one of their female classmates, also 14, to a corner of their school playground and raped her.
After the initial assault, the boys allegedly blackmailed the victim, saying that they would tell their classmates what they did if she did not obey them. They later allegedly raped her again in an empty classroom, a school bathroom, and the playing field, among other places around school. She was sexually assaulted by the six boys on six different occasions, police said. The boys sometimes staged scenes they had seen in pornographic films when raping the girl, said police, including the use of sticks and belts.
The alleged several-months-long attacks came to a halt as the girl ended up reporting to her teacher and parents about what had been happening.
Police say the boys have not shown remorse about the alleged crime. "During interrogation, we were shocked that they didn’t show any regret over what they’d done," a police officer said.
According to police, the boys picked the girl because they thought that she would give little resistance. The boys and girl had been classmates for three years. Police said this type of rape will encompass more than just a sex offense charge for minors, as it is alleged to have taken place on school grounds.
Experts blamed increasing sexual attacks of this nature by students on the lack of sex education and easier access to obscene materials.
Lee Hye-ran, a school nurse at a middle school in Seoul’s Yeongdeungpo district, said, "When students who have committed sexual violence are brought into my office for counseling, some say that their female victims also enjoyed the act. Exposed frequently to pornographic videos, they tend to ignore the suffering that victims of sexual violence must have felt, only to imagine that the women felt the same way as the men did."
Park Hyeon-hui, an executive of a youth culture center, said, "These days, youth do not feel inhibited about expressing their feelings toward the opposite sex, including holding hands and kissing each other in public. But it has reached a serious point." She continued, "[Some young students] play something called the ‘king game,’ where the loser has to do whatever the king orders - which can include sexually inappropriate demands. In other instances, boys take photos up female classmates’ skirts and pass the pictures to their friends, or grope female classmates’ backsides or breasts. Such a factor of sexual violence in their culture makes them desensitized to such offenses," Park said.
Currently, the government orders middle schools to administer sex education for ten hours every year, but no school follows this rule, sources said. School nurse Lee emphasized the importance of such education in reducing in-school sex offenses, saying that those teenagers that did not receive sex education sometimes possess the misguided notion that acts of sexual violence are a way of expressing feelings of love.