We all hope that our family members are safe, and that they are doing well. We wonder what is happening to them if they get home late, especially when it comes to our daughters and sisters. Seoul Metropolitan Government plans to form 14 Safe Villages for Women. This year, we will operate them in 14 autonomous districts on a trial basis the first of its kind to be executed by a local government and expand it to the 25 districts.[Safe Villages for Women] is a program wherein the local residents, the police, and the district office work together to ensure women’s safety against sexual assault, domestic violence, or sex trafficking. It is based on the idea that the protection of women should be carried out with all villagers’ support and cooperation even as it is important to install crime prevention devices such as surveillance cameras and increase the number of street lights in back alleys.
In 2012, the number of sexual assault cases in Seoul stood at 6,064 (i.e., 16.6 cases a day on the average), increasing 61.5% over a 5-year period. It is difficult to prevent crimes occurring in blind spots, such as back alleys, only with the patrolling of the police or night guards. On the other hand, domestic violence, i.e., violence between married couples, is said to be pegged at 53.8%, but only 8.3% of the victims report to the police.
Under said pilot program, 2 villages will be formed as Safe Villages without Domestic Violence, and 12 villages, as Safe Villages without Sexual Assault or Sex Trafficking. Safe Villages without Domestic Violence will be started in Eunpyeong-gu (Korea Women’s Hotline) and Jung-gu (Korea Legal Aid Center for Family Relations and Domestic Violence Counseling Center). It will encourage villagers not to regard such matters as “none of my business” but strive to prevent domestic violence through more positive communication with neighbors.
The program of Safe Villages without Sexual Assault or Sex Trafficking will be started in 12 places in Dongjak-gu, Mapo-gu, and Jongno-gu. Villagers will form groups of volunteers to make rounds and keep a watchful eye on back alleys to protect women. Safe Villages for Women will be formed in Gwanak-gu, Jungnang-gu, and Gangdong-gu considering the large number of one-woman households and bars.
We at Seoul Metropolitan Government will continue to strive to encourage more people to join forces to prevent women-related crimes and form neighborhoods where women feel safe.