This morning at 10am, one of the men involved in raping me was sentenced.
Statistics say that only 9 percent of all rapists get prosecuted. Only 5 percent of cases lead to a criminal conviction. Only 3 percent of rapists will spend a day in prison. The other 97 percent walk free.
The usual sentence in a case like this in Korea is around 1 year. The prosecutor requested 1 and a half years. Today, my attacker was sentenced to 2 and a half years jail in South Korea, which will include rehabilitation, and be followed by deportation and registry on the public list of sex offenders in Korea.
Though this doesn’t sound like much, it is huge. Unbelievable. A huge, much needed step in the right direction in Korea.
To go from my case being marked as closed, and essentially being told to forget about it, to this… is not something I can even really process yet.
There were obvious aggravating factors such as the fact that it was a sexually motivated crime on a victim that was in a vulnerable situation (ie. drugged), the fact that the accused continuously changed his plea and story and appeared to not show any remorse, and the fact that there were a string of other offences that he was up for (including illegal immigration)… but I firmly believe that the amount of media attention we managed to generate, and the amount of pressure that we put on authorities has had a profound effect.
This has set a precedent for the way that sexual crimes are handled and sentenced in Korea, which was my biggest goal.
It sends a very clear message: WE WILL NOT BE SILENCED. We will stand TOGETHER. We will fight and we will WIN.
This win, today, is for every other survivor. For every woman that came forward to me and told me their own stories, some of whom I now consider my closest friends. For every woman who reported their assault and was made to feel like they were a liar; every woman who was blamed, who was silenced, who was bullied or ridiculed or ignored. This is for you. For every woman who chose not to report, because they were scared of these things. Because having to constantly re-live these horrifying crimes was more than they could bear. Because their attacker was a partner or a friend. Because they were ashamed or embarrassed.
To these women: your feelings are completely valid. It is your choice not to report and it is nobody’s right to make you feel guilty or convince you otherwise.
I went through most of the above. I was blocked at almost every turn. The system, the authorities, people I initially trusted…until now, had actively worked against me. I understand better than most, why the statistics for reporting are so low.
This is not the end. Although it is unlikely (given the circumstances surrounding the sentencing and the comments made by the judge) to have much, if any, effect, the accused can appeal. I still have multiple other cases ongoing, including the case against the Korean police. The other rapist, and any other men involved, still currently walk free.
But this is a win. A huge win. Something I would never have been able to achieve without the unending support of my friends and family, and the unbelievable generosity and encouragement of complete strangers all over the world.
Thank you. I love you.