▲ The One Stop Support Center at Halla General Hospital (left) provides counseling, medical and legal support for sexual violence victims. Hollaback! Korea, which maps harassment cases, is also among the services for victims. Photo courtesyOne Stop Support Center Jeju (left)
Ginger Whitesell introduces Hollaback! Korea and the One Stop Support Center at Halla General Hospital, both supporting victims of sexual harassment on Jeju Island. Whitesell is the Jeju representative for Hollaback! Korea. - Ed.
In late January, Jeju Island Social, a community Facebook group popularly used by Jeju’s foreign population, erupted in passionate discussion. A female group member posted that she had been sexually harassed, using the public space as an outlet to warn others about her experience.
The initial reactions were primarily from other women sharing similar experiences of sexual harassment, and offering advice to address future incidents. Shortly, though, some group members suggested the young woman was exaggerating or shouldn’t be taking her experience so seriously. These comments sparked a heated and tense debate of over 100 comments which ended in an agree-to-disagree truce.
Instances of sexual harassment and violence are unfortunate realities for women, children and men across the globe. After incidents of cat calls, indecent exposure, groping, stalking or worse, victims often feel as though society views them as at least partially responsible for the crimes committed against them. It can be difficult for victims to find outlets that are supportive and safe.
When acts of sexual harassment and violence occur, it is imperative that victims have adequate resources to support and empower them through their recovery process. Luckily, there are some services in Jeju that Koreans and foreigners alike can utilize in the event of suffering abuse.
Hollaback! Korea is a non-profit organization that seeks to end street harassment. Founded in New York in 2005, Hollaback! expanded to Korea in December 2013. Founding members include people of both sexes and a variety of sexual orientations. Hollaback! Korea has created a safe and supportive online community for people to prevent and share instances of street harassment.
The Hollaback! Korea website is in both English and Korean. Victims and bystanders upload their street harassment experiences with details about the incident, the offender and where it occurred. After sharing, other people can show their support for the person who shared the story by clicking an “I’ve got your back!” button or leaving a comment.
Logging where incidents of harassment occur geographically allows people to highlight high-risk areas and repeat offenders are more likely to be caught. In the future, Hollaback! can use this information to help make recommendations on improving public safety.
In addition to exchanging instances of street harassment, the Hollaback! Korea website provides a list of resources on how to get help following an incident of harassment.
Hollaback! encourages others to take a stand against harassment as well, giving tips on its active Facebook page and website of how to intervene or show support to a victim. Korea founder Chelle B. Mille adds, “Hollaback! supports not only those targeted for street harassment, but also informs and empowers bystanders to take a stand against street harassment.”
One Stop Support Centers are another resource for victims of sexual, domestic and school violence. With 18 private and government-supported One Stop Support Centers located across Jeju, victims can receive free counseling, medical care, legal services and investigative work. Foreigners who do not speak Korean can receive free translation through Jeju’s Immigration Center.
Ko Eunbi, director of the One Stop Support Center at Halla General Hospital, reports that as few as 5 percent of victims of sexual crimes in South Korea report them to the police. Often, victims feel embarrassed or ashamed of the crimes committed against them. However, organizations like Hollaback! and One Stop Support Centers are helping to shift these attitudes.
Chelle B. Mille of Hollaback! states, “We are breaking the silence and encouraging discussion about street harassment throughout our communities. It was incredibly exciting when our press release was a top story on Daum during Korean New Year, to imagine families all over Korea discussing street harassment.”
Ko has also noticed a slight increase in reported sexual crimes, indicating a positive change in attitudes towards victims. The One Stop Support Center at Halla General Hospital, specializing in sexual violence, now receives 60 to 70 cases a month.
According to Ko, awareness of the seriousness of sexual, domestic and school violence has increased due to One Stop Center awareness raising at festivals, on the radio, in public toilets and through school programs. These awareness campaigns enable victims to feel more empowered to report crimes committed against them. Reporting by foreigners has also increased in line with the increase in the foreign population.
Victims deserve a space in which they can empower and express themselves, and also receive support in how to handle a situation.
If you are ever harassed in a public space, One Stop advises that you call the police immediately. With CCTV monitors every 30 meters throughout most of Jeju City, it is likely a perpetrator has been caught on tape.
One Stop Supprt Center Jeju
Web: jjonestop.or.kr (home page not yet active)
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