By Shim Sun-ah
SEOUL, March 13 (Yonhap) -- The number of sex crimes against minors rose sharply in the past five years but more than 40 percent of convicted offenders were released on probation, government data showed Thursday.
According to the data by the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family, the number of sex crimes, such as rape, indecent assault and brokering prostitution, against children and juveniles rose 52.7 percent from 1,068 cases in 2007 to 1,631 in 2012.
The findings are based on a research conducted by the state-run Korean Women's Development Institute on supreme court cases of sex crimes against minors during the 2007-2012 period.
Of the total of 9,128 cases in the five-year period, 8.5 percent of the assailants were also underaged while about 41.6 percent of the victims were children under the age of 13, the data showed.
The data also showed that nearly half of those convicted of such crimes were released after getting suspended jail sentences.
The rate of rapists who were put to suspended jail terms rose from 30.4 percent in 2007 to 42 percent in 2012, and that of those convicted of indecent assault also increased from 44 percent in 2007 to 51.5 percent in 2012.
"It's a great shame that more than 40 percent of those who sexually assaulted minors received suspended prison terms," Cho Yoon-sun, minister of gender equality and family, was quoted as saying in a press release.
"We need to revise the law in a direction to lift the minimum sentences for sex criminals on minors so they can be arrested upon committing such crimes and no longer receive suspended jail sentences," she added.
<All rights reserved by Yonhap News Agency>