Korea passes stricter penalty for infant abandonmentBy Kim Arin
Published : July 18, 2023 - 18:08
South Korea on Tuesday passed a bill punishing abandonment and killing of infants more severely, a revision that comes 70 years since the relevant sections of the criminal code were first enacted.
Before the revision, penalties for abandoning an infant or an infant dying as a result of abandonment were mitigated under certain circumstances. The mitigating circumstances included when the offender -- the mother, her parents or her partner -- is believed to be unable to raise or look after the infant.
The revision increases the maximum penalty for infant abandonment to three years of jail or a fine of 5 million won ($3,960) from the current two years or 3 million won. Under the revision, the maximum penalty for killing an infant is a life sentence or capital punishment, while currently it is 10 years of jail at most.
The bill’s passage came amid opposition from the minor progressive Justice Party.
The party said toughening penalties without adequate measures to expand support for single mothers, especially those who are teens, was feared to push women experiencing unwanted pregnancies into riskier situations.
Most offenders of infant abandonment or killing are younger women without a partner, statistics show.
According to government statistics released by National Assembly Deputy Speaker and People Power Party Rep. Chung Woo-taik’s office earlier this month, about 8 in 10 offenders convicted of infant killing in the last nine years were teens or women in their 20s.
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