A Study on the Concept of Power Relation in Sexual Harassment

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Cha, Seon-Ja
Issue Date
BK 21 law
Journal of Korean Law, Vol.5 No.2, pp. 65-84
sexual harassmentpower relationNational Human Rights Commissionequal employmentgender discrimination
In Korea sexual harassment has attracted public attention, ever since Ms. Woo, a professorassistant lecturer, sued her senior professor for sexual harassment in 1994. At that time it was debated whether sexual harassment could be an art of tort and whether the victim should be compensated. After this case, the notion of sexual harassment was described in the relevant Korean legislation, in particular, the National Human Rights Commission Act and the Equal Employment Act.

The conceptual elements of sexual harassment in above mentioned two acts are very similar. ① The sexual harasser should be an employer or an employee of a public institution standing in a business or labor or other relationship ( Art 2. Nr. 5 of National Human Rights Commission Act) ②A sexual harasser has to use high status at work (Art. 2 sec. 2 Equal Employment Act : art 2 sec. 5

National Human Rights Commission Act).

Therefore, sexually related speeches and conducts constitute sexual harassment under Art. 750 Korean Civil Law, only if they satisfy the condition of power relation between the sexual harasser and victim. The extent of legal protection against sexual harassment depends on how the power relation in concept of sexual harassment is to be interpreted. This paper argues that the core of this power relation is connected with gender power. However, the Korean court neither recognize nor accept the notion of

gender power. As a result, the scope of protection afforded to the victims is narrow under the present system.
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College of Law/Law School (법과대학/대학원)The Law Research Institute (법학연구소) Journal of Korean Law (JKL)Journal of Korean Law Volume 05 Number 1/2 (2005)
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