Tuesday, February 15, 2011

"Being Drunk" May No Longer Be Valid Reason for Sex Attacks

Internet groups have reacted angrily to a Ministry of Justice plan to strike off excessive alcoholic consumption as an accepted legal defense for sex attacks in Korea. “People are not responsible for what they do when they drink” wrote one group member, 52-year-old Kim from Seoul, in an online forum, “And nobody sets out to interfere with a child, but after a few drinks, well, you know...”

Korean breweries are also said to be uncomfortable with the proposal. Until recently, some of them had provided helpful charts on bottle labels detailing the level of alcohol consumption versus the type of attack that was likely to be seen as excusable by a judge. For example, the label on a bottle of a leading brand showed consuming one bottle excused suddenly squeezing the breast of a female colleague, whereas once four bottles were consumed it was acceptable to use physical force. Six bottles generally permitted sex attacks on children, though the brewery emphasized that this was “entirely optional”.

Recent pressure from the Ministry though has temporarily forced them to remove the labels, which some customers regarded as a drinking game and others pointed out were an important guideline. “How am I supposed to know what I can get away with now?” asked 48-year-old Kim from Seoul, who asked to remain anonymous. 52-year-old Kim, a manager with a leading bank, has conducted 98 assaults ‘which he can remember’ - mostly of junior female staff – and had been hoping to reach a tally of 100 by the end of the month. “Now I don’t know where I stand legally, but if I stop I’m afraid I’ll miss out on my next promotion.”

Judges, who are believed to often invoke the defense themselves, may have little choice in following the Ministry’s new guideline, but there will still be some room for maneuver. A Ministry spokesman told us that “Clearly, when a judge attended the same university or school as the defendant, it’s entirely expected that they would be more lenient. And of course, people designated as famous or powerful will continue to be exempt from being convicted of any crimes.”

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