SEOUL, April 11 (Korea Bizwire) — More needs to be done to ensure sexual harassment victims are better protected in the workplace, researcher Kim Ji-young of the Chungcheongnam-do Women’s Policy Development Institute said at an open forum held on parliamentary grounds in Yeouido yesterday.
Citing data collected by 10 Korean Women Workers Association chapters across the country that operate counseling hotlines, Kim said the number of calls from sexual harassment victims who said they had suffered a backlash has been growing over the past few years, from 34 percent in 2015 to 63.2 percent in 2017.
In a survey of 231 sexual harassment victims from 2014 through 2016, the Seoul chapter of the Korean Women Workers Association discovered that 57 percent had suffered from repercussions for reporting what had happened. Besides being dismissed of their duties, the surveyed reported being ostracized as well as verbally and physically abused, resulting in psychological and physical damage.
At the time of the survey, only 28 percent of the victims were working, and 72 percent had already left their former job. In the latter category, 82 percent were found to have departed within six months of the sexual harassment incident, suggesting that they were not being adequately protected at work.
Based on the data, Kim proposed that South Korea adopt the German labor policy of allowing employees to refuse to work to guarantee their own protection, while still receiving salary. Employees would be allowed to exercise this option if employers either did nothing or failed to sufficiently implement measures to halt and address the sexual harassment in the workplace.
A member of the Woman Labor Law Support Center said the government needs to provide greater oversight over claims of sexual harassment in work environments. Since 2013, only 307 of the 2,734 claims lodged at the Ministry of Employment and Labor were resolved, with a mere 14 leading to indictments. In addition, fines were levied on the relevant authority figure in the company in only 359 cases.
Kevin Lee (email@example.com)