[2014 Sex Trafficking Prevention Policy Forum] Ten Years of Anti-Sex Trafficking Act: Accomplishments and Remaining Tasks
작성자: 진흥원/ 등록일: 2014-09-29
Ten years of the anti-sex trafficking act: Accomplishments and remaining tasks
Enacted in 2004, the anti-sex trafficking act is currently celebrating its 10-year anniversary. A number of changes have taken place since the passage of the act, including increased public awareness of the illegality of prostitution, introduction of the concept of prostituted victims, introduction of systems to protect and support prostituted victims, provision of public services for prostituted victims, and implementation of stronger punishments for sex buyers and brokers. However, the law has also demonstrated limitations in terms of responding to the ever-evolving sex industry. In commemoration of the 10th anniversary of the act, this is a fitting moment to reflect upon the activities of the past decade regarding prevention, protection, and punishment as relates to prostitution and seek measures for the future.
First, the government has strived to raise public awareness regarding prostitution through diverse types of promotional videos, anti-prostitution campaigns, and mandatory anti-prostitution education. It has also been engaged in promotional activities for non-Koreans, Koreans traveling overseas, and victimized Korean women in other countries in an effort to combat prostitution both at home and abroad.
Furthermore, the government has demonstrated its firm commitment to implementing policies for the eradication of prostitution through other activities as well: a number of international conferences on sex trafficking have been held with an aim to facilitate international cooperation and a pan-ministerial taskforce for the prevention of prostitution is in place reviewing the implementation of the government’s comprehensive measures on the prevention of prostitution and devising follow-up measures for prevention and victim support.
However, there remains a paucity of materials for the promotion of anti-prostitution awareness and the distribution of such materials is insufficient. Difficulties in the integrative management of preventive education and a shortage of educational materials have also been identified as challenges.
Second, together with the enactment of the anti-sex trafficking act and the introduction of the concept of prostituted victims to allow for the non-punishment of “prostituted” individuals, support for the victims of prostitution has been defined as a government responsibility. In response, the government has installed victim support organizations across the country to establish a comprehensive system spanning from the rescue and protection of victims to support for their rehabilitation and independence, including on-site visits, counseling and emergency rescue, legal and medical assistance, and vocational training. For the prevention of re-entry into the prostitution industry and to provide support for social integration of victimized women, independence support centers have been installed to facilitate employment, resumption of education, and vocational training for prostitutes. Communal workshops and internship programs are in place to expand job opportunities for prostituted women. In addition, financial subsidies are provided for medical and legal costs.
Remaining challenges in terms of victim support include the need to expedite organic coordination between support systems and the lack of support available to adolescent and non-Korean victims.
In terms of punishment, the greatest change since the enactment of the anti-sex trafficking act has been the distinction between voluntary prostitutes and prostituted victims. Prostitutes who can be identified as victims are exempted from punishment and the relevant case is forwarded to concerned counseling centers or the victim’s family. Voluntary prostitutes are subject to suspension of prosecution, fine, or probation. In the case of sex buyers, however, first-time offenders are required to attend the john school program, repeat offenders are subject to fines or more severe punishment, and those engaged in overseas sex tourism suffer restrictions on passport issuance. Punishment of brokers has also been expanded and reinforced. As a consequence, the numbers of red light districts and prostitutes have declined; the number of convictions of brokers has increased; and a legal basis has been established for regulating emerging variants of prostitution and confiscating profits accrued from the crime.
In reality, however, it is difficult to corroborate the crime-related profit of brothel owners and the crackdown on variants of prostitution has been unable to keep pace with the industry’s spread. In the case of adolescent prostitution mediated through the Internet, laws and institutions to regulate it are significantly lacking compared to the wide range of its accessibility.
Since the implementation of the anti-sex trafficking act, both civic organizations and the government have made significant efforts in the fields of prevention, protection, and punishment of prostitution. However, the sex industry is continuously evolving, the range of polices to prevent prostitution is extensive, and the policy environment surrounding this issue is less hospitable than that for other policies. Therefore, the need for monitoring and policy review is greater in regard to prostitution-related policies. Based on the results of such activities, strategies to overcome the unfavorable policy environment should be established. For this goal, pertinent data needs to be accumulated on a continual basis. In terms of regulating the sex industry, local autonomous bodies should be encouraged to demonstrate more active interventions and more lively participation in anti-prostitution policies. Furthermore, incentives can be provided for good practices in efforts to eradicate prostitution. Such practices and their impacts can be promoted through mass media in order to foster a public consensus on the need to eradicate prostitution.
Khieu Serey Vuthea