New bills to prevent sex offenses in universities seem far from being enacted as 70 schools refused to report their statistical data on cases of sexual offense within each school. One out of three four-year-course universities refused to provide information needed to take preventive measures. Schools that rejected the submission largely include major universities in Seoul, including Ewha Woman’s University, Seoul National University (SNU) and Korea University. Last March, lawmaker Park Joo-sun of New Politics Alliance for Democracy requested the Ministry of Education (MOE) the information on cases of sexual offenses collected within universities for the last five years. Park requested the information to research the current state of affairs. In turn, the ministry requested universities to submit their data on the number of crime occurrence and that of the fired faculty. However, 70 schools out of 197 refused to do so. Most universities gave reasons such as privacy issues and problem of timing for the refusal. “The school has missed the deadline for the report since it coincided with the period during which the manager in charge was replaced,” said Kim Jin-hee, a researcher at the Center for Gender Affairs at Ewha. “We have submitted relevant data in other cases in the past and intend to resubmit it if the MOE requests for it again.” Meanwhile, SNU reasoned that the report can violate privacy, since even an anonymous report can give sufficient clues to infer the personal information of both the victim and the offender. “Because the number of cases reported at each university’s center of gender affairs is small, the disclosure could possibly invade one’s privacy,” explained Lee Jae-Kyung, a professor of Department of Women’s Studies at Ewha. “There are cases that require the victim’s consent for the details to be revealed.”Lawmaker Park argues that such situation signifies the lack of will of both the schools and the ministry to fight sexual offenses within the school. “Without basic understanding of the present condition, it is impossible to make effective policies,” Park stressed. Experts emphasize the need for more systematic measures to exterminate the crime. “The university should have the environment in which such issues can be openly discussed not just for fault-finding but also improvement,” Lee said. “But also, such environment must be constructed in all aspects of society. In order to do so, more effective and forceful measures for research on the actual condition should be conceived.” Park is planning to propose a new bill that “makes submitting data related to sexual offenses obligatory” to grant legal authority to the MOE in making requests. A similar act that obligates such submission has already been under action in United States under the name “Clery Act.” Enactment of the Clery Act in Korea has been continuously suggested as the sexual offenses within school has recently become controversial.
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