Row rises over fash­ion in ha­rass­ment case

Court rules film­ing woman in leg­gings is not sex crime as they are daily wear

The Korea Times - - NATIONAL - By Bahk Eun-ji [email protected]­re­

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.

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