Gov’t, ruling party vow to stamp out digital sex crimes

SEOUL,  The government and the ruling Democratic Party on Thursday announced new get-tough measures against digital sex crimes, vowing to push to punish even buyers, advertisers and possessors of child and youth sexual abuse materials, as well as their producers and sellers.

They also agreed to raise the legal age of sexual consent to protect children from sex crimes and push to confiscate proceeds from sex crimes even prior to the convictions of offenders through legal revisions.

The two sides agreed on the measures at a high-level meeting in Seoul and vowed to push for parliamentary passage of relevant bills before the tenure of the current 20th National Assembly ends in May.

The authorities will also reinforce the obligation of internet business operators to deter the circulation of digital sex materials, enhance the protection of sex crime victims by building a 24-hour one-stop support system and widen social perception that seeing digital sex materials is a crime.

In addition, they will introduce a criminal confiscation system in which all proceeds from sexual crimes are seized even before offenders are convicted.

According to Rep. Baek Hye-ryun, head of the ruling party’s task force on digital sex crimes, the party and the government will push to raise the legal upper age limit for minor victims in statutory rape, a crime that involves having sex with someone who is underage.

Under the current law, anybody having sex with a person under 13 years of age shall be convicted of rape, even if they have consensual sex.

Baek said the authorities will push to raise the maximum statutory rape age to 16 and treat all youths involved as victims.

The latest measures came as the nation has recently been shocked by a string of sexual exploitation cases centered on group chat rooms of the Telegram messenger service.

Most notably, Cho Ju-bin, a 24-year-old, and his co-conspirators have been indicted or arrested for allegedly blackmailing female victims, including underage girls, into providing sexual videos, which were then posted in his pay-to-view Telegram chat room, dubbed “Baksabang.” At least 25 people, including eight underage girls, have been confirmed to be exploited by Cho.

The Democratic Party said it will cooperate with the government to pass three pending revision bills for the Criminal Law, the Sexual Violence Crime Act and the Information and Communication Network Act through the Assembly.

The three bills, all related to online chat room sex abuses, call for stricter punishment of blackmailing with videos of a sexual nature, in particular.

In addition, the party will submit more revision bills on the payment of rewards for informants of digital sex crimes and expansion of employment restrictions for sex offenders.

“The ruing party asked the government to devise fundamental measures to root out all digital sex crimes. Those measures should include rigorous investigation, punishment and support of victims that meet international standards, as well as measures to block the demand,” Baek said in a media briefing.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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