Rape and Domestic Violence: The law criminalizes rape. Although no specific statute defines spousal rape as illegal, the Supreme Court acknowledged marital rape as illegal in May 2013. The penalty for rape is at least three years in prison; if a weapon is used or two or more persons commit the rape, punishment ranges from a minimum of five years’ imprisonment to life. If the perpetrator is a relative of the victim, the minimum prison sentence for rape or sexual assault without a weapon increases from three years to five. If a weapon was used or two or more persons committed the crime, the minimum penalty increases from five years to seven. During the year the government identified sexual assault and domestic violence as two of four social evils to tackle.
The law defines domestic violence as a serious crime and authorizes authorities to order offenders to stay away from victims for up to six months. This order may be extended up to two years. Offenders may be sentenced to a maximum of five years in prison and fined up to seven million won ($6,700) for domestic violence offenses. Noncompliance with domestic violence restraining orders may result in a maximum sentence of two years in prison and a fine of up to 20 million won ($19,000). Authorities may also place offenders on probation or order them to see court-designated counselors. The law requires police to respond immediately to reports of domestic violence, and they were for the most part responsive.
When there is a danger of domestic violence recurring and an immediate need for protection, the act allows a provisional order to be issued ex officio or at the request of the victim. This order may restrict the subject of the order from living in the same home, approaching within 109 yards of the victim, or contacting the victim through telecommunication devices.
During the year the government revised the Act on the Prevention of Domestic Violence and Protection of Victims, the Act on the Prevention of Sexual Violence and Protection of Victims, and the Act on Women’s Development to require preventive education about and awareness of domestic violence, sexual violence, and sexual harassment in national agencies, local governments, and public organizations. In September 2013 the government established a Violence Preventive Education Division.
The Ministry of Justice stated there were 27,656 reported cases of rape, sexual assault, and domestic violence through July. Of the 16,095 cases of sexual assault reported, authorities detained 1,468 offenders. Of the 11,561 cases of domestic violence reported, authorities detained 228 offenders.
The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family funded 33 integrated support centers for victims of sexual violence at hospitals, providing counseling, medical aid, case investigations, and legal assistance. The government also subsidized 96 counseling centers, and there were 76 nonsubsidized counseling centers, for a total of 172 counseling centers in the country. These provided victims with free medical services, legal services, support during the investigation and trial, and therapy and rehabilitation programs. As of August, 23 of the 172 facilities were for victims with disabilities. As of August there were a further 25 protection facilities for victims of sexual violence, of which seven were for victims with disabilities and two for child and juvenile victims of sexual violence.
For domestic violence victims with children over 10 years old, the government established two new family protection facilities during the year and three in 2013. The government operated 27 protection facilities for migrant women victims of domestic violence. The government also supported 194 group home facilities, which provided counseling, job referral, and vocational training for victims.
Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C): There is no specific law related to FGM/C. There were no reported cases of the practice.
Sexual Harassment: The law obligates companies and organizations to take preventive measures against sexual harassment, and the government enforced the law effectively. Business owners are subject to a penalty of up to 10 million won ($9,500) for an incident of sexual harassment in the workplace, but there is no specific criminal punishment. Approximately 16,000 administrative agencies, local governments, and public organizations are also obligated to submit their annual plans and ratings every year to the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family on efforts to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace and raise awareness. During the year the ministry conducted special training for managers at 174 agencies who received poor ratings based on their annual plans. In September the Ministry of Employment and Labor released a guidebook to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace, to help individuals understand what harassment is, and to provide guidance on how to cope with it.
Civil remedies are generally available for sexual harassment claims, and education about sexual harassment was widely available nationwide. At public institutions administrative remedies are also available.
Reproductive Rights: The law allows couples and individuals to decide freely the number, spacing, and timing of their children; to have the information and means to do so; and to have the right to attain the highest standard of reproductive health, free from discrimination, coercion, and violence. Contraception and maternal health services, including skilled attendance during childbirth, prenatal care, and essential obstetric and postpartum care, were widely accessible and available.
Discrimination: Women enjoy the same legal rights under the constitution as men; however, there is no law that punishes employment discrimination against pregnant women. The law provides for equal pay for equal work, but an OECD report released in August stated that the country’s gender-pay gap was 37.4 percent in 2012. The law permits a woman to head a household, recognizes a wife’s right to a portion of a couple’s property, and allows a woman to maintain contact with her children after a divorce. Custody cases were decided on their merits with women often gaining custody. The law also allows a remarried woman to change the family name of her children to her new husband’s name. In June the government launched the first private-public task force on Gender Parity and Empowerment of Women to promote gender equality and make the best use of female talent in the workplace. In June 2013, the government launched the Academy for Talented Women in an effort to build the capacity of mid-level female managers in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. From January to October 2014, the academy trained 4,374 women.
The law provides a fine of up to five million won ($4,760) for companies found guilty of practicing sexual discrimination against women in hiring and promotions. As of July the NHRC had received 47 complaints of alleged sexual discrimination: 20 cases concerning employment, 11 involving discrimination related to goods or services, nine concerning facility usage, and seven miscellaneous cases.
Nationwide there were 140 “New Work for Women Centers” that provided employment support and vocational training for women. The Ministry of Employment and Labor also maintained an affirmative action program for public institutions with 50 or more employees and private institutions with 500 or more employees. The program requires these institutions to comply with a hiring plan devised by the ministry if they do not maintain a female workforce greater than or equal to 60 percent of the ratio of female workers compared with total workers in relevant occupations. When the Public Procurement Service evaluates submitted bids, it gives more weight to businesses with effective affirmative action measures.
The Ministry of Employment and Labor reported the number of women in entry-level civil service positions and new diplomatic positions continued to increase. The ministry and the Korean Employers Federation reported the number of female managers in businesses with more than 1,000 workers increased slightly. In 2013 the federation reported women held 16.3 percent of managerial positions at public and private institutions with 1,000 workers or more.
Women continued to experience a pay gap, since a higher percentage of women than of men filled lower-paying, low-skilled, contract jobs.