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(EDITORIAL from The Korea Times on June 10)

All News 07:19 June 10, 2016

Women in danger
Female workers in isolated areas need special protection

Koreans have been appalled by a gang rape of a female teacher in her 20s on Heuksan Island off Sinan County, South Jeolla Province, after the case was made public last week. The predators included the parents of the teacher's students, triggering public uproar about the blatant disregard for teachers and women.

The authorities need to ensure that the men in this case are duly punished and that the victim is given proper physical and emotional care before resuming her duties.

The rape case is a shocking reminder of the unsettling work conditions women are exposed to in remote areas such as Sinan County.
What is also shocking is the reaction from some of island's residents, who seemed to be siding with the predators and blaming the victim for getting drunk in media interviews.

It is high time that proper protection measures are implemented to allow women to work in a safe environment. In particular, it is important to protect them from sexual crimes.

The Ministry of Education announced some measures for protecting women teachers in isolated areas. They include installing security systems such as surveillance cameras and emergency alarms. It is hard to believe that there were no surveillance cameras within a radius of one kilometer of the crime scene in the county. But increasing the number of surveillance cameras is not a long-term response to protecting women from sexual and other crimes.

It is likely that many women teachers face similar conditions in rural areas. As of 2015, 46 percent of the teachers in public schools in remote areas are women. The Ministry of Education should seriously consider not sending women to isolated areas that are unequipped with the most basic facilities such as a police station. Sinan is the only town in the South Jeolla Province that does not have its own police station.

The bravery of the victim is noteworthy for publicizing the incident. In Korea, many women choose to remain silent about being sexually abused for fear of disadvantages in their personal lives and at work. A recent survey by the National Human Rights Commission of Korea found that 40.2 percent of victims of sexual abuse said that they would not bring it to light. Women must speak up about sexual abuses.

The victim has also renewed attention to a problem that not only teachers but women in many professions face. Women nurses, police and military officers, among others, also work in remote areas without proper protection.

It is also necessary to provide proper sex education for uncivilized people such as those who sided with the predators in the Sinan case. Some residents said that it was something that could only "happen among young people." This kind of barbaric mindset is not limited to the elderly living in isolated regions.

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