SEOUL, Oct. 24 (Korea Bizwire) – It is reported that female migrant workers are easily exposed to one of the worst human rights violations, sexual abuse, in South Korea.
Of the migrant women working in South Korea, 10.7 percent went through sexual harassment or sexual assault, according to data conducted by a human rights advocacy group, surveying 1,218 foreign employees from 13 countries including Vietnam.
Among them, 35.5 percent reported cases of sexual assault, 35.5 percent unwanted physical contact, 29.0 percent involuntary drinking and physical contact at company gatherings for dinner and 12.9 percent forced prostitution. The data showed that assailants were mostly bosses (88.9%) or managers (77.8%). Even 16.7 percent were other employees from the same country.
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And yet, it is hard for victimized women to be protected. Language barriers first stop them from reporting. Even though some manage to report their experiences, there is lack of well-organized systems or organizations to help them. Some harassers even threaten them not to report by using their tenuous legal status in Korea.
“A law on preventing sexual assault doesn’t take care about migrant workers. That’s why I proposed the revision. Victimized migrant employees are not well protected as they have a lot of limitations in communication and social status,” said Lee Jasmine, a Philippine-born South Korean lawmaker.
The Ministry of Employment and Labor, therefore, produces a guidebook, entitled the “Prevention of Sexual Harassment, The First Step towards a Happy Working Environment,” in English to distribute to small companies hiring migrant workers.
The ministry has already made the manual in five foreign languages such as Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, Indonesian and Uzbek in 2013.
The English version explains to foreign employees how to deal with sexual harassment and assault in workplaces. The ministry plans to distribute it to local employment and labor offices, companies hiring female migrants, job training centers for foreigners, the Korea Support Center for Foreign Workers and counseling offices for migrant employees.
By Veronica Huh (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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