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As the head of the Jeju Association for Women's Rights JAWR , she and her organization handles approximately cases per year with a staff of only seven. Jeju, it turns out, is the third worst region in South Korea for sexual assault and domestic violence - behind Gwangju and Seoul - with 2. The national average is 1. Koh said that some authorities think this is due to the fact that women report these problems more on Jeju than they do on the mainland. However, even at first glance such a suggestion is, at best, facile.
There are clearly more substantive and troubling causes for these statistics. Victims are easily retraumatized by the very process of investigation, especially when not carried out by professionals who have had the necessary training. Keeping track of who is coming and going is a logistical nightmare. It also pits law enforcement against tourism as a significant source of local revenue. This simultaneously stretches police resources thin and promotes a two-tiered system for dealing with crimes, differentiating tourists from locals, providing far more leniency to the former.
Beyond tourism, there are also issues of vulnerability amongst the foreign female population. Koh said most of her cases with women from other countries involve wives being assaulted by their Korean husbands. Women from countries like the Philippines, Vietnam, and China who find it challenging to reach out for help due to language barriers and social isolation.
Furthermore, there are also women who are being taken advantage of by brokers who bring them to Korea illegally. In , for instance, a group of ten Chinese women were allegedly brought to Jeju and threatened into being prostitutes. Seven of these women were here illegally, and police questioned how this might have been used against them by the broker.
People in a country illegally often fear reporting crimes since police are usually more interested in their visa status than the assault itself. She offers the example of Gwacheon, where they banned brothels in the central district and installed more CCTVs throughout the streets in order to promote safety for women.