Row rises over fashion in harassment case
Court rules filming woman in leggings is not sex crime as they are daily wear
Controversy is rising over whether it is okay for women to wear leggings as daily wear. Some cite the freedom to wear what they want and denounce men who sexualize women for their clothing, while others say tight and revealing clothes are inappropriate in public spaces.
The row followed a recent appeals court ruling that stated a man who filmed a woman wearing leggings and a hoodie on a bus was not guilty of committing sexual harassment.
According to the appellate division of Uijeongbu District Court, Tuesday, the man who was caught filming the lower half of the woman with his cellphone for about eight seconds last year, did not commit either sexual harassment or violence.
A Uijeongbu local court had found the man guilty of a sex crime and fined him 700,000 won ($600.30) and ordered him to attend 24 hours of lectures on sexual violence prevention.
But in its ruling, the appellate court said: “Filming the woman’s body parts secretly might give her an unpleasant feeling, but it was not sexual humiliation because these days women wear leggings for daily wear, not only as sportswear, and she was also wearing them on public transportation.”
The ruling caused an immediate critical response, especially from women.
Many said they didn’t understand the verdict, because whether the woman was wearing leggings or not, filming another person without their consent is a crime.
“It’s not the point at all whether the victim wore leggings or whether the outfit was sexual. The point is he filmed the woman’s body without consent and that act is supposedly illegal,” said an office worker who wanted to be identified only by her surname Kim.
Some women said although they want to wear leggings as daily clothes, men look at them differently, making them feel uncomfortable.
“Secretly filming the lower body of a woman wearing leggings means the man already saw her as a sexual object,” said Park Jee-eun, a 25-yearold office worker in Seoul.
“I often wear leggings, but notice many people stare at my outfit. I don’t understand why they glance at me and it is their problem, but it obviously makes me feel uncomfortable.”
But others, even women, said it was inappropriate to wear tight clothes in public.
“It’s not a problem with the pants themselves, but wearing them in public is not understandable. For me, people wearing leggings are the same as naked people,” said Choi In-ha, a 33-year-old pharmacist in Seoul.
Lee Mi-kyoung, director of the Korea Sexual Violence Relief Center, said the court ruling could be understood by some members of the public as giving some kind of “permission” to take these kinds of films.
“The court ruling just gave a message to offenders that they are allowed to film or take pictures of others wearing specific types of clothing,” Lee said.
Women are seen wearing leggings in a gym. Controversy has risen over whether leggings are appropriate to wear in public as regular clothing.