“You are my woman” Controlled by possession… It was a harbinger of ‘fellowship killing’


In the safest place in the world, he is killed by the person he was once closest to. They turn away by replacing them with language such as love fights, jealousy, and discord, and look into them only when the damage becomes visible. But the victim is no longer in this world. Again, death is forgotten and scattered. The murder of a woman in an intimate relationship is rather unfamiliar because it is familiar. looked at the judgments of 205 cases in which spouses (ex- and current wives, including common-law relationships) died and 142 cases in which lovers died between January 2016 and November 2021. The deaths were different, but strangely similar.—Editor

Mexican visual artist Elina Chowvet, who organized the ‘Shoes Protest’, a non-violent protest against femicide and gender violence, displayed red shoes at Zocalo Square in Mexico City on January 11, 2020. He has been doing this performance since 2009, when his sister was murdered by her husband. The red shoes symbolize the murdered woman. REUTERS.

‘You are the last woman. you insulted my love no forgiveness wait.’ This is a cell phone text message sent by a man in his 50s to B, a woman who broke up after dating for about 1 year and 7 months. Obsessed with the idea that B was dating another man, he showed an overabundance of obsession. He threatened B and his family by saying ‘I’m going to kill you’, threw 4 bottles of soju with thinner into B’s car and set it on fire with a lighter. We installed a recorder in the house we lived in and restored the car’s black box to monitor B’s actions. Determined that the relationship could no longer be continued, b left the house and avoided contact, so A repeatedly texted. ‘You know that death is the end if you don’t come home, but don’t get me wrong’ ‘You’re still my girl’ ‘I risk my everything to punish you’. His ‘punishment’ was put into action in May 2018, about a month later. A, who was waiting near the house, as soon as B came down, threatened him with the weapon he had prepared in advance and forced him into his car. As B opened the passenger door and tried to escape, he swung a weapon. A was arrested and charged with setting B’s car on fire in December 2017, and was sentenced to two years in prison and three years of probation, and was released in February 2018. B submitted a petition for non-punishment to the court and appealed for A’s leniency, while asking the police for personal protection because of A’s violence. The request for personal protection was canceled in January of that year due to the arrest of A. B could not prevent his own death in the end. (Busan District Law West Branch 2018 Gohap ○○○)

Illustration Jung Da-eun

Illustration Jung Da-eun

Taking control of the other person’s behavior as one’s own, obsessing over their actions and blocking other relationships, hanging around them, asking for a reunion or suspicious of an affair, and sending threatening text messages over and over again are all signs of homicide. a strong foreshadowing Most victims, fearful of revenge, are reluctant to report it to the police. Even if there is a history of being assaulted by the perpetrator in the past, like B, they have no choice but to ask the court for mercy. Even if he crouched like this, it was not enough to protect himself from the opponent’s violence. Even the police’s personal protection is often powerless in the face of persistent perpetrators.

analyzed 142 courtship murder judgments that were sentenced in the first instance between January 2016 and November 2021. As in A, 45 cases (duplicate counts) of killing someone for notifying them of separation or refusing to reunite were 31.7% of the total. Women were brutally murdered because the perpetrators were outraged (48 cases, 33.8%) while arguing over issues of the opposite sex, ignoring them or feeling betrayed (52 cases, 36.6%). The foreshadowing of murder was clear before death. There were 52 cases (36.6%) of cases in which a history of violence against the same victim prior to the killing was specified in the judgment, such as arson of a car.

Premonitions of this kind of murder are engraved like scars in 142 cases of judgments. These signs are not limited to physical violence. The perpetrators used the trust relationship formed at the beginning of the relationship as a trap to trap the victim emotionally and psychologically. Researchers connect these clues to discover a ‘pattern’ that leads to homicide. Jane Monton-Smith, a professor of public safety at the University of Gloucestershire, UK, analyzes that there are a total of eight stages, from ‘femicide’ that occurs from intimate partners to death.

Not all femicides that occur in a relationship follow these eight steps in order. However, the ‘covers’ mentioned by Professor Smith stood out everywhere in the 142 cases of homicide. Characteristics of an intimate relationship are also found, knowing the other person’s place of residence, work, and daily life.

Among the perpetrators, there were 32 cases of criminal punishment for violent crimes and 9 cases of sexual offenses (duplicate counting). In just three months after they developed into a romantic relationship, they urged marriage and had a meeting, but when the victim wanted to postpone it, he called him to his house and killed the victim (Chuncheon District Law 2018 Gohap ○○○). Even though it was less than three months, there were 16 cases of murder with vindictiveness when the victim said, “Let’s stop dating.” A man in his 30s, C, who had only met for a month informed him of their breakup, threatened, “If we don’t meet again, we will jump down” and “If we break up, let’s die together.” Application 2018 Gohap○○) In the case of threatening suicide by sending a will written by the perpetrator himself to the victim’s employer (Suwon District Law 2018 Gohap○○○) (7 cases), the victim’s cell phone usage history is regularly monitored In the case of controlling the other party by installing a location tracking app or preventing them from going to downtown areas such as Gangnam and Itaewon in Seoul at all (5 cases) (7 cases) were typical signs of murder in the judgment.

Under current law, the murder of a female partner simply for “ignoring” her without a ‘punishable’ precursor has something in common. These perpetrators have a strong desire for women, and commit crimes when they are notified of a breakup or suspect that the woman is having an affair. This means that one’s dominance in relationships with the other person has been weakened or control has failed. Heo Min-suk, a legislative investigator at the National Assembly Legislative Investigation Office, said, “It is not an accidental and temporary expression of offensive words and actions in a bad mood, but a sense of ownership and the authority to control the other by lowering them to the object of discipline and teaching. A sense of superiority” is seen as the underlying act. (Footnote 1) This is also directly related to the patriarchal and sexist culture that justifies male domination.

Relationship Violence Remains in a Legal Void

It is not enough for the investigative agency to recognize these signs and protect the victims. There are 6 cases in which the victim was killed even though he requested the police to protect him.it’s a thing Even though the victim wore a smart watch (locator) and pressed the emergency button, the police could not accurately determine the location and arrived at the scene late and were already killed (Busan District Law 2017 Gohap ○○○). The ‘police report’ acted as an opportunity to provoke the perpetrator rather than an escape for safety. Six of the eight murders occurred despite reporting experience to the police because the perpetrator harbored revenge on the police report. Despite receiving a warning to prohibit access to the victim’s residence, the perpetrator returned to the victim’s home after the police left. (Changwon District Law 2020 Gohap○○) He threatened the victim with a weapon and threatened to meet him again. Measures were taken, but only two hours later, the victim was murdered. (Incheon District Law 2019 Gohap ○○○)

Reporting itself is often difficult. Victims of violence against women in intimate relationships are hesitant to report to the police unless they are bruised or broken. The victims said in a related discussion. “It’s not like I just got bruised, so I didn’t report it” “I think there was no physical violence, so I don’t think I should take legal action or contact the police at all” “I think before there is violence Prevention is also the job of the police. However, it is very regrettable that we have to report the incident after it has happened.” (Footnote 2) The fact that there is a ‘pattern’ in homicide means that it can be prevented through appropriate intervention. Violence in relationships remains a legal void. The ‘Domestic Violence Punishment Act’ does not include companionship, and the ‘Stalking Crime Punishment Act’ narrowly defines the act of stalking as an act of actually approaching the other person or sending objects or messages continuously. It is difficult to punish under the current law. It is because of this blind spot that the need to legally conceptualize and punish ‘coercive control’, which includes psychological, emotional, and economic abuse, is emerging to deal with violence in intimate relationships. Coercive control includes all acts of isolation from other relationships and depriving the victim of the means necessary to maintain daily life in order to make the victim dependent and dependent. In particular, in a patriarchal society that views ‘man’s control over women’ as acceptable, coercive control tends to be viewed as a ‘universal action’ rather than a ‘crime’. The boundaries of crime should be broadened so that the ‘context of an unequal power landscape’ can be taken into account as essential” (footnote 3). In fact, England established ‘coercive control’ crimes as independent crimes from 2015, and Scotland in 2018. The Act (DASA) was enacted to punish domestic abuse by integrating physical, sexual, psychological, and economic abuse. Both laws punish acts of coercive control as a felony, with imprisonment of up to five years in England and up to 14 years in Scotland.

Concerns for prevention must also follow. Choi Sun-hye, an activist at the Korean Women’s Line, points out that “various education and activities that can improve gender equality and human rights sensitivity in society should be actively developed” (footnote 2). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US Seeing ‘violence’ as a public health problem and preventing it; △ Teaching the skills of ‘safe and healthy relationships’ △ Connecting with influential adults and peers △ Intervening in the path that develops into violence △ Creating a ‘protectable environment’ It also suggests six strategies, such as strengthening financial support for families and supporting survivors to promote safety and reduce risks.

After recognizing it as a social problem, only three judgments were made

Of the 142 judgments, only 3 cases clearly stated that they understood the specificity of ‘communion murder’ and recognized it as a ‘social problem’. The Suwon District Court decision in 2018 (2018 Gohap○○○) is the only case in which the context of violence that occurred within the unequal relationship between men and women was also reflected in the sentencing. The court ruled that “(friendship killing) is not a personal problem within a romantic relationship, but a social problem that has a lot of harm and requires severe punishment” and “a crime that takes advantage of the victim’s weakness and a trusting relationship against a vulnerable victim.” In addition, reflecting these characteristics, even though the victim was an ordinary 26-year-old woman, not a disabled person or a minor, it was considered as a factor aggravating the sentence that she was a ‘victim of a crime’. The perpetrator was sentenced to 20 years in prison. “Without recognizing the rules of abuse that have been internalized through long abusive relationships, the signals of control that lead to victim obedience without the use of great threats and violence, the victim’s risk is unknown and the victim cannot be protected from lethal violence. No.” (Footnote 1) Premonitions leading to communion murder were everywhere. If we noticed even one, we’ve saved 142 women over the last six years. Reporter Dahae Park, [email protected] References Footnote 1. ‘The State-Induced, Unknown Risk: Coercive Control in Intimate Relationships’, Min-sook Huh, Korean Women’s Association, 2021 Footnote 2. ‘Voices of the Parties’ Legislative Tasks and Directions Related to Violence Against Women in Intimate Relationships’, Choi Sun-hye, ‘Violence against Women in Intimate Relationships’ Related Law and System Improvement Forum, 2020 Footnote 3. ‘Consideration on Legal Acceptance of Coercive Control as a Domestic Violence Crime’ , Min Yoon-young, , 2021

**What choices do women have to make to survive in the process of breaking up with a violent spouse? Please check by accessing the special webpage of ‘Record of 500 Femicide Cases’ (stop-femicide.hani.co.kr).


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