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The Silence Breakers

Time, weekly magazine of the United States of America, choose a person who has the biggest impact on year as ‘person pf the year’ every year. Time named its Person of the Year : German Chancellor Angela Merkel at 2015 and Donald Trump of the American president at 2016. And then last year ,2017, The Silence Breakers was chosen as ‘The person of the Year’ out of prominent competitors such as Xi Jinping(Chinese president) and Kim Jong Un(chairman of the national defense commission of north Korea). They are main characters of the Me Too campaign.


Me Too campaign


The New York Times reported in October 2017 that Harvey Weinstein who is called magnate of Hollywood have sexually assaulted for 30 years. He threatened a lot of victims with his superior status in the entertainment business. They reluctantly yielded to his sexual demands because he was able to punish them. And it was possible to cover up his crime by getting confidentiality agreement out of them. Almost all of them is an entertainment industry insiders and models including celebrities such as Angelina Jolie and Lady Gaga. When the sex scandal broke, similar experiences keep coming up continuously over 100 counts   Surprisingly Harvey Weinstein is famous for a supporter of feminism and now he is suspected of having used it as a tool to satisfy his sexual desires.


Last October, in the wake of multiple women accusing Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct, actress and activist Alyssa Milano asked her Twitter followers to tweet "Me too" if they'd ever been sexually harassed. because she expected people to recognize the seriousness of sexual assault. This post became an issue all over the world and Facebook posts of 12,000,000 or more poured out in a single day. Twitter also announced that more than 3000000 posts about Me Too campaign spread across Twitter in at least 85 countries until last December. Women share when it happened and what she suffered. And they consoled each other so. It is alarming society about the seriousness of sexual assault. In a Golden Glove Awards held at 7 last January, almost all of star were present wearing a black dress and tuxedo to show their strong bonding as part of the Me Too campaign. And Oprah Gail Winfrey who received the Cecil B Demille award for her life-time achievement in Golden Glove said that ‘ For too long, women have not been heard or believed if they dare speak the truth to the power of those men. But their time is up. Their time is up’ after receiving her award. And this speech became big issue.


Influence on society

Me Too campaign have had a lot of social impact. One of them is the discovery of the buried crime. Me Too campaign reached United States Congress with some accusations by current congresswoman. Linda Terea Sanchez, United States Representative for California's 38th congressional district, made confession of the fact that when she first enter the Congress, she was molested by the senior member. He tried obvious physical contact pretending that it was just a coincidence. According to CNN’s interview to about 50 past and current female lawmakers and aides, with few exceptions they encountered sexual assault or heard about someone’s experiences. even there are a guideline orally among congresswomen like that you should avoid taking an elevator alone with male members. In addition to that, lot of celebrities was dismissed because of the mistakes that they have made in the past.


This finding led to the submission of the bill.  Jackie Speie lawmaker propose the Me Too Congress Act for sexual violence problem in the Congress. On existing process, It takes a few month just only to submit the problem with consulting and mediation. And whole process is taken care of secretly. However, surprisingly, the settlement money is payed by federal taxes around 15000000 US dollar a year.  If this proposal is passed, an assailant will pay whole settlement money and their name and how much money is will be noticed. The party leadership also appreciated the seriousness of sexual assault in Congress and they are considering this bill positively.


Me Too in Korea


Me Too campaign caused a great sensation abroad. but in Korea, there is no organized movement rerated to Me Too campaign. We can find only a few korean posts “#me too” on SNS. In 2016, there were small disclosure campaigns called sexual assault in a church or sexual assault in a literary world in Korea. But these campaigns showed a threshold because there was an incident of false accusation and only a few accusations were able to punish them by law. In October 2016, one woman posted a story on Tweeter and it argued that poet Jin Sung Park raped her and it was spread rapidly via SNS. And the very next day, his picture and name was published on a press. However, in September 2017, he was acquitted and the revelator was sued on charges of making a false accusation. But she was suspended of indictment because she was receiving psychiatric treatment and she was weak psychologically. The revelator issued apology statement. She said It was just a little quarrel and parting. But she magnified it excessively compared to what it actually was.  But poet Jin Sung Park suffered material and mental damage.  His contract of 4 books of poet publication was broken and he attempted suicide by a drug overdose in December 2017. And after sexual assault in a literary world disclosure campaign in 2016, only one case was punished by law for a year. Poet Yong Je Bae sexually assaulted his minor followers and he was sentenced to 8 years imprisonment in a first trial.

So why is it so weak in Korea?


One of cause of weak is secondary damage of a complainant. Only less than 10% of sexual assault victims report the crime in Korea because of a skeptical attention to victims. The Korea society basically considers damage from rape humiliation. They are suspected that it was personal incident not crime and how they live. From 2008 to 2009, Korean Sexual Violence Relief analyzed 258 victims damage cases and as a result, 72 victims were suspected that is was agreed and this is ranked NO.1 as the secondary damage type victims suffered. By the same research, 61.9% of victims heard that telling your friend what happened is harmful and 48.6% of victims heard that announcing your damage is shame from close person as well. Moreover, there are quite a lot of cases that victims are damaged after reporting it. From 2012 to 2016, 26 charges had been received. Their work was actually demoted from professional task to common task after reporting it. However only 2 charges as 7.7% was under indictment. This rate is very low compared with a 47.3% of normal criminal cases indictment rate for 10 years. Eventually, disadvantageous measures were taken against the woman who informed the sexual crime but there is no corrective action properly.


Second reason is Lack of influential people’s participation. In US, famous actors keep participating in Me Too. but in Korea, it is a little different from US’s thing. almost all of Me Too are going along by socially weak people such as young students or new employees. However, even though these people announce and accuse it with great courage, they, on the contrary, meet a headwind as a false accusation or cases is covered up. So they need a lot of the help and attention. Also there were 50 counselling that they had been accused or threatened on Shadowpins, The organization that helps sexual crime victims from October to December 2016 when the sexual assault in a literary world was issued. After disclosure, it could end up as a legal wrangle between individuals. So it needs a influential people’s participation to make everybody pay attention to this crimes. Actually, a participation of celebrity has big effect. They, Hye Su Kim, Won and so on, are a part of reasons why Ice Bucket Challenge which is pointing to the next participant who pour ice water on himself for Lou Gehrig's disease patients made a big sensation. In Korea, singer Syeon who belong to organization for Seung Il Park, former basketball coach, started Ice Bucket Challenge and it spread. And, surprisingly, a donation of 1 billion won was collected in a month and this is bigger than the 12 years sum.


In spite of a week condition in Korea, there has been a place to talk and share the experience of sexual violence in Korea like Me Too movement.
Since 2003, the Korea Sexual Violence Counseling Center has hosted the Survivor Speech Contest every year. This event, which was held in November 17, had five people who shared their experiences and about 110 participants. 
This is a place to empathize and support each other by expressing sexual violence experiences that have not been revealed due to social taboos. It is also a place to break the silence and bring about social change. They say that if you have been sexually assaulted, you have to report them. And if the cases are piled up, the law will change, and the world will change. They also share the know-how to overcome and share the trial process. A total of 60 people has shared their experiences so far. Even though they were victims of the damage, they lived hiding the facts in poor condition. But by speaking their own experience in public, they pledge to live confidently.


Positive effect of Me Too

Time’s up


Me Too movement has been going along as an online exposure, but it needs a little more positive and direct work to change the world. Accordingly, Women in Hollywood form an organization called Time's Up to jointly respond to sexual violence in the Hollywood industry and throughout the U.S beyond just exposure. More than 300 women as well as victims of Weinstein’s sexual harassment., including Emma Stone, participated in this organization. They decided to wear a black dress at the Golden Gloves Awards as part of their first start. They also plan to raise 138 billion won in funds to support the legal aid for victims. Me Too made a great impact on the whole world by the exposure alone but now it leads to the formation of an organization and is expected what it makes the world different.


Male participation, #I Did That


The result of one week analysis of Me Too campaign shows that 30% of the Twitter participants are male and it is meaningful. Besides, due to Me Too campaign, some men have campaigned for #I did that, which means confessing their sexual assault on the SNS. Indian writer DeBangpatak apologized for making women feel uncomfortable or unsafe by mentioning whether he could kiss a woman while talking to her in the past and he said that he will never do it again. And he added that Let's also talk about how to change society by launching # How I Will Change Campaign at the same time. and Actor Mark Luffalo posted a post saying he would not do cat-calling, such as whistling women on the street. he said that he learned that it was like a praise in a movie, but it is not. he realized that it is sexual harassment


Reflection about neglect


Although Mitoo campaign has encouraged victims to reveal the truth and make many changes, the fundamental solution comes from our actions when we witness sexual violence. In addition to the campaign, people are now saying that they will no longer tolerate sexual violence in front of their eyes. In the case of the Harvey’s sex scandal, it is impossible that anybody did not know of a crime for 30 years. In fact, the scriptwriter who has worked with Weinstein several times, was shocked and criticized Hollywood's hypocrisy. He wrote an article criticizing himself and peoples in Hollywood as an accomplice who knew his crime, benefited and kept secret. Professor George B Cunningham of the University of Texas reported that in a 2012 study, people read sexual violence scenarios and almost all of them responded that they would have intervened if they witnessed it. However, in actual situations like the scenarios, there were far fewer interventions. It is difficult to act like this. But When there is culture that does not neglect, we can approach the world without sexual violence.


The ME TOO campaign has uncovered the ugly crimes of celebrities in society that have been hidden What is really surprising is how these things are now revealed. Silence makes them strong. There will be many things that are still not revealed. And now it is time to speak. In order to reduce the victims of the future a little bit.

황호빈  hb93kr@naver.com

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