A new Korean film called Silenced, or Dogani (The Crucible), has prompted a national outcry in South Korea, with citizens demanding tougher penalties for sex crimes and stronger laws to protect children and the disabled from sexual abuse.
The graphic movie, based on a bestselling novel of the same name, exposes the injustice of the outcome of the 2005 Inhwa case, where female deaf students as young as seven years old were raped and sexually abused by school authorities at Gwangju Inhwa School, a school for hearing impaired students. To add to the horror, justice was never served for these girls (of the four convicted school officials—which included the school’s principal, who bought his way out of jail—only two were prosecuted and were only sentenced light jail time), and the public turned a blind eye to the case until writer Gong Ji-young brought the marginalized story back to the center in 2009.
Seen by more than 4 million viewers—including South Korea’s President, Lee Myung-bak—and covered by major media outlets like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, and Jezebel, Silenced has made a progressive impact by recently helping Korea’s National Assembly to pass a reformed bill on sexual crimes, reports The Korea Times. The “Dogani Law,” named after the Korean title of the film, significantly increases the prison sentence (up to life imprisonment) for offenders abusing children under 13 and the disabled.
Furthermore, the “Dogani Law” has also abolished a controversial clause, “inability to resist,” which had required victims, specifically those who are disabled, to prove that they were physically or mentally inept to resist properly when the crime was being committed—a loophole that gave sex offenders a way out.