South Korea: over 700 cases of workplace sexual harassment reported in 1 year

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Workplace sexual harassment is still prevalent in Korea despite measures to increase awareness of sexual crimes and the #MeToo movement, with insufficient measures to properly discipline the offenders, according to recent government data. The Ministry of Employment and Labor said Thursday it had received 717 reports of sexual harassment at workplaces in the one year since March 2018. Most or 48.5 percent of the victims suffered unwanted physical contact, followed by sexual jokes at 42 percent, remarks about their appearance at 18.8 percent and unwanted sexual advances at 9.5 percent, when multiple answers were allowed. More than 91 percent of the cases took place at private companies.

The victims reported the harassment to their companies’ human resources departments, grievance committee or senior workers in 30 percent of the cases. Another 27.9 percent complained to the offenders directly, and 11.6 percent sought help from outside organizations. But only 17.5 percent of the companies investigated the reported cases while 16 percent did not. In 58.2 percent of the reports, the government was unable to determine how the company responded. The companies hushed up the incidents without taking disciplinary action against the offender 24.8 percent of the time, and took improper responses such as meting out lenient punishment in 7.4 percent. Only 8.8 percent of the victims said the offenders were punished sufficiently. In some cases victims were even discriminated against such as being placed in the same department as the offender at 6.7 percent, being fired, 6.3 percent, and being urged to quit, 5.5 percent.

 

By Kim Hyun-bin

(Korea Times)

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