In what is somehow being hailed as a landmark case, a South Korean court has convicted a man for raping a transsexual woman, but apparently only because it was proven that the woman had been having regular vaginal sex with her longtime partner, therefore making her a “real” woman capable of being raped.
The Busan District Court yesterday convicted a man of rape against a transgender woman in the country’s first ruling recognizing a legally male plaintiff as a rape victim. The 28-year-old defendant, surnamed Shin, was given a suspended three-year prison term with 120 hours of community service, officials at the court said. In August last year, Shin robbed the 58-year-old plaintiff of 100,000 won ($68), and raped her after having broken into her house. “The victim should be seen as a woman, the object of the rape crime in the criminal law, given that she underwent a sex reassignment surgery in 1974 at age 24, until which point she had behaved as a woman, and given that she had lived with a man, who was aware of her case, for 10 years,” said Koh Jong-joo, the presiding judge at the court, in his ruling.
“Although the victim is legally a man, it is only the gender that was reported at birth, hardly the genuine sex the victim has ultimately accepted.” The prosecutors initially indicted Shin only on charges of robbery and assault as they thought it would be difficult to press rape charges against him. Later, they changed the charges to break-in and rape charges after consultation with the court, officials said. The prosecution earlier sought a five-year jail sentence for Shin. The court added that if the victim’s right to make her own sexual decisions is infringed on when the victim is physically able to have vaginal sex with a man, it can constitute rape. The ruling contrasts with the previous one in 1996 by the Supreme Court on a similar case. At the time, the top court did not recognize then 38-year-old victim as a woman, citing physical differences such as chromosomes, sexual organs and no reproductive ability.
Does this mean that South Korea has no law against male rape? The perpetrator in the above case was sentenced to a whopping 120 hours of community service. Disgusting.