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‘It’s going to always be on someone’s computer’: digital sex crimes haunt South Korean women

South Korea’s cutting edge technology has abetted a wave of digital sex crimes targeting young women and girls. According to victims, researchers and advocacy groups, South Korea is the global centre for illegal filming and sharing of explicit images and videos.Digital technologies, including high-speed streaming and encrypted chat rooms, have provided new vehicles for propagating deeply embedded gender discrimination and disseminating material depicting sexual violence against women.“South Korea, unfortunately, has been ahead of the curve on the prevalence, variety and seriousness of digital sex crimes,” said Heather Barr, co-director of women’s rights at Human Rights Watch.The country boasts the world’s highest rate of adult smartphone ownership and among its fastest internet speeds, with 99.5 per cent of households having access to the internet. It was also the first country to launch 5G service.A new HRW report based on interviews with victims and their families highlights that the crimes commonly involve intimate images captured and disseminated both by strangers and women’s acquaintances.In one case, Lee Ye-rin* discovered a clock given as a gift by an employer had been streaming footage from inside her bedroom for weeks.“What happened took place in my own room — so sometimes . . . in my own room, I feel terrified without reason,” Lee said. She added that, a year after the crime was discovered, she still relies on prescription medicine to combat depression and anxiety. Kang Yu-jin*, another victim, was forced to quit her job and move house after a former partner published private photos alongside identifiable details including her home and office addresses.“There were men who wanted to contact me at the church where my parents attended . . . and there were men who sent me [messages] to have sex. There were also men who came to my home and work,” she said.Researchers noted that beyond the dangers of stigma and harassment, suicide is also prevalent.“I’m quite afraid of my future,” said Oh Soo-jin*, another victim. “It’s going to always be on someone’s computer . . . [I thought] ‘I want this to stop but this problem will never end . . . So if this can’t stop, I want to stop my life.’”While digital sex crimes are a global problem, the report published on Wednesday by US-based HRW has also exposed South Korea’s comparatively light punishments and lack of protection for victims of digital sex crimes.“Officials in the criminal legal system — most of whom are men — often seem to simply not understand, or not accept, that these are very serious crimes . . . Survivors are forced to deal with these crimes for the rest of their lives with little assistance from the legal system,” Barr said.Despite heightened public awareness and legal reforms, the number of sex crime cases involving illegal filming has continued to rise.Last year, student researchers and police uncovered a secret chatroom on the Telegram messaging app that contained images of child sexual abuse. The material was viewed by 260,000 people, according to estimates by Korea Cyber Sexual Violence Response Center.According to the Women’s Human Rights Institute of Korea, the number of cases linked to illegal filming and distribution of images and videos numbered almost 7,000 last year, up 70 per cent from 2019, demonstrating increased reporting efforts. But few cases are punished. Prosecutors dropped 44 per cent of digital sex crime cases in 2019, while almost 80 per cent of those convicted of capturing intimate images without consent received a suspended sentence, a fine or a combination of the two, in 2020, HRW said.Last year, a Korean court rejected a US extradition request for a man convicted of running one of the world’s biggest child pornography websites after he was sentenced to just 18 months in prison for violating South Korean child protection laws.The government has been criticised for failing to address gender inequality, which analysts say fuels digital sex crimes.A female air force sergeant took her own life last month after being sexually harassed by a male colleague and the air force allegedly tried to cover up the case. Her death sparked public uproar, forcing Lee Seong-yong, the air force chief, to resign.Despite calls for tougher action following a string of high-profile #MeToo cases involving K-pop stars and senior politicians, little progress has been made to stop the abuse of women across South Korea’s patriarchal society. The country ranked 102 out of 156 in the 2021 World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap report, with the largest gender disparity in economic participation and opportunity of any advanced economy.According to HRW, South Korean women do four times as much unpaid work as men and earn 32.5 per cent less.“The root cause of digital sex crimes in South Korea is widely accepted harmful views about and conduct toward women and girls that the government urgently needs to address,” said Barr.*Names have been changedIf you have been affected by anything in this story and need help, you can reach Lifeline Korea at 1588-9191. In the UK, the Samaritans are on 116 123. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in the US is on 1-800-273-8255.

A tale of two generations: Childhood then vs childhood now

Are there some childhood memories you miss so badly that you wished you could turn back the hands of time? Of course, Yes! Many of us get nostalgic about our childhood experiences and we reminisce with so much excitement. Growing up in Nigeria in the 1980s and the 1990s is different from what children know now. The way we live our lives and relate to people in our communities has changed. We have new technologies now that shape our interactions with people. No wonder it is sometimes difficult for children nowadays to relate to the stories of their parents’ childhood experiences. The bottom line is that childhood experiences have evolved. In this article, we will explore seven main areas where childhood then (in the 1980s and 1990s) differ from what we have now: We were raised by the community: Children were put in the custody of a large community that extended beyond their own nuclear families. We had aunties, uncles, grandmothers, grandfathers, cousins, friendly neighbours, and teachers who looked after us. Our parents did not need to be at home before we had lunch. Some of us ate lunch prepared by our grandmothers or ate at our neighbours’ houses. Now, children might find it hard to relate to people outside their nuclear families. We are living in a more individualistic culture than before and parents are more paranoid these days. We can understand some reasons for parents’ paranoia now but we cannot rule out the benefits of having a large support system. We had lesser screen time: We spent less time watching television as this was the only screen we knew about during our childhood. The TV stations would typically resume at 4 pm and shut down at 10 pm. Many children’s programme were mostly aired in the early evenings before adults came in to watch the news and other programmes which we could not relate with. Now, the screens are everywhere. The TV stations run for 24 hours and there are many TV stations now than what a kid in the 80s or 90s knew about. Apart from the limitless opportunity for television viewing, children now have their personal gadgets like smartphones, tablets, and Y-pads. Those who do not have personal gadgets have access to their parents’ devices which allow them to have more screen time than the kid from the 80s or 90s. We played outdoors: Whether at home or in school, we were allowed to play outdoors. We played outdoors with our siblings, neighbours’ children, and peers at school. We played football, acted in dramas and engaged in games such as “hide and seek”, “ten-ten”, “who is in the garden”, “police and thief”, “ice and water” and other break-time activities we learnt at school. Now, it has become suddenly dangerous for children to play outdoors and parents are more overprotective than ever. Our holidays were restful: We looked forward to our holidays with so much excitement. We would sing songs on the school assembly ground to convey our excitement about the holiday to our teachers. One of such Nigerian children songs has its lyrics as follows: “Holiday is coming! Holiday is coming! No more clanging bells No more teachers’ whip! Goodbye teachers, goodbye scholars We are going on a jolly holiday!” Then, we had restful and fun-filled holidays but now the meaning of holidays has evolved just like other childhood experiences. We live in a culture where we are under the pressure of raising high-achieving children. Therefore, holidays present the ideal time for us to enroll our kids in some form of summer lessons, piano lessons, coding exercises, crafts, and skill acquisition. We have the desire to raise highly competitive kids and so we do not give time for children to unwind during the holidays. Rather, we pack their schedule with activities that can make them stand out among their contemporaries. Boredom made us creative: Children raised in the 80s and 90s know what it feels like to be bored on a sunny afternoon. Boredom made us explore different ways of engaging with our friends and family members. We tried our hands on different things. We would act dramas, play with toys, play football, constructed paper boats, attempt drawing, and told stories among ourselves. Boredom brought children together at that time. We were not afraid to ask other children to share their play ideas. If we tried their ideas and we did not like them, we moved on to someone else’s idea. We were open to new activities. Children nowadays find an easier way out of boredom. When they are bored, they result to the screen whether TV or smartphones and spend endless hours engaging with those devices. Boredom made children in the 80s and 90s connect more with other children while boredom makes children isolate themselves these days. We were told folktales about the tortoise: The tortoise is a very popular creature among children raised in the 80s and 90s. It featured in almost all the African folktales we were told by our parents, grandparents, and teachers. We grew up believing different things about the tortoise, about how it got its rough shell and how it was a mischievous animal. In other words, the tortoise was at the centre of the fables that were passed down to us. No one talks about the tortoise anymore and kids nowadays do not believe any of the tales we believed in the 80s and the 90s. We can go on comparing the childhood we had and the childhood our children are experiencing now. The goal is not to say that some childhood experiences were particularly better than others. When we compare the two generations critically, we will realize that both have their unique advantages and disadvantages. By reminiscing on our childhood, we seek to find meaning in our childhood memories. What does it mean to be raised by a community, to have less screen time, to able to play outside, to have restful holidays, to be bored, to be told tales about the tortoise? The meanings we make of these memories can serve our children well today in developing their social skills.

Nikkiso Cryogenic Services Announces Asas Aljood (Saudi Arabia) to Become the Authorized Service Provider

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