Thousands of women took to the streets of Seoul over the weekend to demand that the police fairly investigate digital sex crimes involving hidden cameras.
Demonstrators among the 12,000-strong gathering claimed that the police would “speed up” their investigations if the victims of privacy intrusions of a sexual nature were men, while allegedly dragging their feet over abuse cases involving women, including ubiquitous “spy-cam” or “revenge porn.”
The event on Saturday was one of the largest female protests in recent South Korean history. Many wore red as a symbol of their anger, while chanting “women are also citizens of Korea,” reported the Korea Times.
The protest was sparked by the arrest of a female model, 25, for allegedly photographing a male colleague naked without his knowledge while he was posing for university fine art students, and uploading the picture online.
The young man was reportedly distraught after his picture went viral and he was ridiculed.
Women were surprised, however, by how quickly the police rushed to solve the case – taking under a week to do so. Over 400,000 people have now signed a petition to the presidential Blue House, demanding “equal justice” and claiming that the female suspect has been unfairly treated.
“Just because the victim is a man and the suspect is a woman this time, the country is investigating the case differently,” wrote one petitioner, according to the JoongAng daily.
“Remember the cases of women who were victims of hidden camera crimes and went to the police for help?” wrote another. “They would be told, ‘Well you had it coming to you, because you didn’t dress modestly’ or ‘We can’t catch the culprit. It’s too hard’.”
For years, South Korean women have been victims of what was described by the Korea Expose website as a “spy-cam porn epidemic”. They have been secretly filmed in public bathrooms, changing rooms, or a camera has been pointed up their skirt on an escalator, and the footage is then posted online.
In 2016, the police closed down Soranet, one of the most notorious websites for hidden camera footage of female body parts, and which had over one million users. It reportedly took the authorities ten years to do so.
According to police data, almost 5,200 sexual harassment cases involving spy-cam footage were reported in 2016. Over 80 percent of the victims were women. The same year, more than 7,300 requests were made to remove revenge porn, which had often been illegally uploaded.
Petitioners to the Blue House also mentioned the case of five male swimmers who were charged for installing spy cameras in the female swimmers’ locker room. They were pronounced innocent last year by a local court, citing lack of evidence.
The presidential office has proposed regulating hidden camera sales, imposing stronger penalties and providing a stronger support system for victims.
Source: The Telegraph