By Kim Rahn
The National Assembly passed a revised bill on sexual crimes, the "Dogani Law", at a plenary session, Friday, to allow heavier punishments for offenders abusing children under 13 and the disabled.
The passage comes amid public anger after the film "Dogani", called "Silenced" in English, based on a true story of sexual assaults by teachers on deaf students at a school in 2005, shed new light on the case.
According to the new law, the statute of limitations for sexual crimes targeting children under 13 and the disabled will be scrapped.
Prison terms for those raping the disabled or young children will also increase, up to life imprisonment. Previously the term was a minimum seven years for rapists of the disabled and at least 10 years for those of children.
When the offender is the head or a staff member of a welfare or educational organization for the disabled, an additional sentence will be given.
The controversial clause about "inability to resist" will also be abolished. The clause was originally meant to punish sex offenders harming people physically and mentally unable to resist properly, but it has given offenders a way out because courts required victims to prove they were in such a state.
Along with the bill's passage, the Assembly decided to form a special committee comprised of 18 lawmakers from both ruling and opposition parties to investigate human rights infringements of the disabled and take appropriate steps by the end of May.
"Human rights infringements of the disabled, such as sexual assaults, are very serious. It is also not easy for disabled victims to make what happened to them public and receive help, because many welfare facilities where the disabled stay are not properly monitored, like Gwangju Inhwa School, as depicted in the film", a member of the committee said.
"The government is taking related measures but has had difficulty in drawing up a comprehensive policy because the issue is dealt with by several ministries, including those responsible for welfare, gender equality and education. So the Assembly will be in charge of overall measures".
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