Monday, August 29, 2005

Education Starts for Sex Offenders

By Chung Ah-young
Staff Reporter
The Korea Times

Eight men suspected of soliciting prostitutes have attended ``John School,’’ the nation’s first educational program that exempts offenders from criminal punishment.

Intending to educate the offenders and prevent them from repeating the violations, the John School first opened at the Korean Probation and Parole Office under the auspices of the Ministry of Justice in Hwigyong-dong, eastern Seoul on Saturday.

The word ``John’’ is a colloquial term used to describe men who buy sex.

Male offenders are subjected to eight hours of classes designed to change their views on prostitution in exchange for a suspension of their indictment.

The eight offenders at the school’s first session were caught buying sex from prostitutes after the implementation of an anti-prostitution law last September.

Officials from a female sex trade victims’ protection center and the Korea Anti-AIDS Federation gave lectures to raise the offenders’ awareness that buying sex is a crime and abuses human rights.

The attendees learned about the purpose of the anti-prostitution law and the negative effects that soliciting prostitutes has on society and the family.

They also took part in a socio-drama, acting out a specific social situation and role-playing as victims, brothel owners and family members of prostitutes. They also received medical information on sexually transmitted diseases.

At the completion of the program, the participants took an oath to never buy sex again after discussing ways for controlling drinking, which easily leads to buying sex.

Kim Yang-im, head of the female sex trade victims’ protection center, said that it is very difficult to change men’s attitude towards buying sex from prostitutes who voluntarily engage in the sex trade.

``However, during the education program, male offenders came to realize the impact of their crime and how in the sex trade women are treated as sexual objects, not as human beings and are deprived of their human rights,’’ Kim said.

A 27-year-old Korean-American lecturer, Kim Hyun-mi, a member of a San Francisco-based civic group called Standing Against Global Exploitation (SAGE), said after observing the program that it was good to prevent the second-time offenses even though the lectures were somewhat boring.

``In the United States, female sex trade victims give lectures to sex buyers to rehabilitate them, focusing on emotional enlightenment. The John School is very effective in preventing second-time offences, boasting less than a five percent repeat offence rate among about 4,000 male graduates since 1996,’’ Kim said.

According to the ministry, about 50 offenders have been placed on the waiting list to undergo the education program among the 2,304 who have a suspension of indictment and fines on charges of buying sex from January to June.

The ministry is planning to expand the John Schools to 13 probation and parole centers nationwide next month.

The John School was originally launched in the U.S. in 1995 at the request of the SAGE to educate prostitutes, human traffickers, brothel owners and clients.
08-28-2005 19:36


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