Sunflower Centers (Integrated Support Centers for Sexual Assault Victims)
Ministry of Gender Equality and Family

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
ㅇ Situation before the implementation of the initiative - Due to the influence of Confucianism and its patriarchal culture, the perception of gender roles in Korea is distorted and traditionally male-oriented. As a result, female sexual abuse victims are often blamed for her behavior and losing her chastity. - A large number of female sexual assault victims experience secondary victimization during the medical examinations or the investigation process of the crime: they experience distress, are urged or threatened to make a settlement, deal with a biased attitude against women by an investigative agency that lacks gender awareness, and face the media’s negative exposure of sexual violence. ㅇ Growing need for a new type of victim support organizations - Provisions to support sexual assault victims began in the 1990s by women’s movement organizations and sexual violence counseling centers. However, victims had to visit different agencies in order to receive the services and assistance they needed, such as investigation, counseling, protection order services, or psychotherapy. - In 2002, sexual assault evidence collection kit was developed and a number of medical institutions were designated to support victims of sexual violence. However, there were still many cases where victims could not receive emergency medical treatments or aid from professionals in collecting scientific evidence. - In May 2003, the news covered a case where a mother of a sexually abused 4-year old had to visit several different hospitals and police stations for 3 whole days before receiving the proper medical treatment, investigation and other necessary services. This news coverage increased public awareness for the need of a new type of victim support system. ㅇ A lack of support for vulnerable victims of sexual violence (e.g. children, women and persons with disabilities) - The absence of an exclusive response system that respond to sexual violence according to the type of offense, including sexual violence against children, resulted in a lack of proper emergency procedures for the early stages of cases, such as the diagnosis and treatment needed for each type of violence. - Victims who are economically disadvantaged or who have difficulties defending themselves (e.g. children, adolescents and the intellectually disabled) could not get the necessary medical treatments due to a lack of medical support and consequent financial burden. Furthermore, they could not receive proper compensation for their suffering and legitimate punishment was not imposed on the offenders due to insufficient medical or investigative support and the inability for victims to provide proof for the damage. - Additionally, sexual assault victims in rural areas had limited access to emergency services in crisis. Apart from simple counseling, it was difficult for victims to access long-term psychotherapy and legal services.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
ㅇ We established 37 Sunflower Centers (Integrated Support Centers for Sexual Assault Victims) inside hospitals across the country to provide all services necessary for victims of sexual violence in one location. The centers are permanently staffed with doctors, law enforcement officers and other professional staff to offer victims specialized and systematic services, free of charge for 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. ㅇ We have established an early emergency response system to sexual offenses in collaboration with the police emergency hotline (call 112), the 18 women’s emergency hotlines (call 1366), and sexual assault counseling centers, which directly links sexual assault cases to a Sunflower Center once reported. This expedites the legal evidence collection process using a sexual assault evidence collection kit, the recording of statements, and investigations in the early stage of the case. ㅇ We have established a legal basis and financial resources to continue the initiative, and since its first foundation in 2004, have newly launched one to two Centers every year to bring us to 37 centers nationwide as of 2016.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
In establishing the Sunflower Centers, we keep in mind the accessibility of victims to the Centers so that they can take advantage of all necessary services in one place. Also, we have employed a strategy to design a new type of medical support system that covers all the medical expenses of each victim. ㅇ We designed a victim-oriented medical support system to minimize the inconveniences of victims and to help staff promptly respond to emergency situations. - We have launched Sunflower Centers within local hospitals nationwide to provide victims of sexual assault access to the necessary services quickly and easily. - We stationed necessary professionals, such as medical doctors, clinical psychologists and law enforcement officers, at all Sunflower Centers to offer specialized and systematic services whenever and wherever victims need them so they can avoid visiting multiple different institutions and spending unnecessary time waiting for services. - We produced a standardized service manual and assigned professional staff to areas that are likely to have a relatively low quality of services so that such vulnerable areas also can provide and maintain high-quality medical services at the same level as big cities. ㅇ Free of charge medical treatment services for victims of sexual assault - Medical expenses are subsidized in full to victims of sexual assault, including costs for treatment for physical and psychological injury by sexual violence, pregnancy due to rape and the following induced abortion or delivery, and expenses incurred while collecting legal evidence. -Medical expenses are fully provided to family members as well, assuming that family members of sexual assault victims are victims themselves, under the condition that they submit a medical certificate signed by a physician stating that the psychological injury is due to the family member’s sexual assault. - To assist in the recovery of the victims, expenses for nursing are provided to victims of sexual assault belonging to disadvantaged groups (e.g. single-parent families, grandparent-headed households, children from disabled parents, and low-income families). - Free legal aid is granted to those who are not capable of defending themselves or keeping themselves away from violence. Also, relevant information is offered to help the victims stand on their own feet, contributing to improving their welfare as well as their recovery.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
ㅇ Institutionalized the operation of the initiative within the governance system - The establishment of Sunflower Centers (Integrated Support Centers for Sexual Assault Victims) was stipulated for sustainability. A multilateral governance system was institutionalized that allows the Ministry of Gender Equality & Family, local governments (in 16 cities and provinces), the National Police Agency, the Ministry of Justice and hospitals to cooperate for the establishment and operation of the Centers. ㅇ A victim-oriented medical and legal support system - Sunflower Center is the only organization in Korea where medical treatment and forensic evidence collection of sexual assault victims can be done simultaneously. This solved the limitations of the existing public services that provided only partial services. - Establishment of the Centers inside hospitals enabled long-term psychotherapy as well as emergency services for the victims. - Professional services are promptly offered to the victims. This facilitates the investigation and criminal punishment of the perpetrators through scientific evidence collection using emergency kits along with the assistance of 135 female law enforcement officers who are on stand-by at the Centers nationwide. - The legal basis has enabled the provision of consistent quality services nationwide and free medical, nursing and accompanying services.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
The establishment of Sunflower Centers was led by the Ministry of Gender Equality & Family. It is carried out and managed under the collective agreement between the Ministry of Gender Equality & Family, local governments, the National Police Agency, the Ministry of Justice and medical institutions (hospitals). ㅇ Effort of the Ministry of Gender Equality & Family to actively assist sexual assault victims - The Ministry of Gender Equality & Family, as the lead Ministry dealing with support policy for sexual assault victims, has carried out the establishment of the Centers to implement a victim-oriented policy and meet the needs of staff who directly contact and assist the victims, such as building a response system dedicated to child victims of sexual violence. - The Ministry of Gender Equality & Family has set out an operation manual for 37 Centers located in 16 cities and provinces to support their staff training, advisory group organization, performance assessment and consulting. - 16 cities and provinces provide administrative support for the smooth execution of the initiative, including approving operational plans and providing a budget for the Centers. - The Ministry of Justice has placed public defenders at the Centers to provide free legal aid for sexual assault victims. The National Police Agency has dispatched 135 female law enforcement officers to support the investigation process on sexual assault cases, such as recording statements of victims. - Hospitals have assigned medical specialists, such as medical doctors, nurses and clinical psychologists, to provide victims with medical services whenever needed. - Private protection facilities support the temporary protection of victims who are linked to the Centers. ㅇ Sunflower Centers, located in 16 cities and provinces, support nearly 20,000 sexual assault victims per year. - According to police data, 28,993 sexual offenses, including rape and sexual molestation, occurred in Korea in 2016. 1,083 victims, or 3.7% of the total victims, were children below the age of 13. - In 2016, of the 28,993 victims of sexual assault, 19,134 (66%) victims received 269,164 services through 37 Centers nationwide (64,411 medical services, 30,363 psychological assistance, 83,659 counseling services, 46,911 services for investigation & legal process, 4,458 accompaniment services and 39,362 information and referral services). An average of 14 services were provided per victim.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
ㅇ Organized a steering committee to design the victim support system which is both distinct from and effectively connected to existing services - In response to the growing needs to reform the victim support system, a steering committee, composed of civil servants, professors and NGO activists, designed services that distinguished but also effectively connected with existing facilities. ㅇ A long-term plan strategy to develop a new model - The Ministry of Gender Equality & Family studied overseas institutions that are similar to the Sunflower Centers and provided the legal basis to establish them. As a result, the initiative was applied to the 2004 policy and budget in order to be carried out. - Since the Sunflower Centers launched in May 2004 with counseling, medical treatment and psychotherapy to sexual assault victims under 13 years or intellectually disabled, the victim support model has gradually expanded. In 2005, the 24/7 Sunflower Center was established to strengthen the early response, such as emergency medicine for the victims including adults. In 2010, a Center integrating the advantages of both models was founded. As of now in 2017, 37 Centers are operated nationwide. - To offer evidence-based services, an R&D Center was established in 2014. This R&D Center is staffed with full-time MD and PhD researchers to research on victims of sexual assault. ㅇ Legal grounds to secure a foundation for the initiative - The establishment of Sunflower Centers and their service delivery system were stipulated in the relevant Act in 2010, securing a foundation to continue the initiative. The initiative then expanded across the country and is included in the government’s national tasks to check its progress. ㅇ Linking the government ministries and human resources in the private sector - Since the initiative aims to provide sexual assault victims with all necessary, individually customized services in one place, it requires professionals from different sectors. - These professionals include civil servants from the Ministry of Gender Equality & Family, the Ministry of Justice and other government ministries, law enforcement officers, intermediary, nurses, clinical psychologists, and more. - Professors, activists of local NGOs and parents of victim children joined the Center’s Steering Committee as members to provide advice and make decisions regarding Sunflower Center’s project plans and other major issues, enhancing the effectiveness in executing the initiative. - Efforts were made to minimize blind spots in providing support by linking to related organizations, including 104 sexual assault counseling centers and 30 protection facilities for sexual assault victims. ㅇ Stable financial management through matching funds from the Ministry of Gender Equality & Family and 16 cities and provinces, and self-pay medical institutions (hospitals) - In 2013, the Ministry allocated a subsidy of KRW 15,467 million for the initiative’s budget - In 2015, the amount of subsidy was increased from KRW 15,467 million to 20,782 million. This was used to support medical services (KRW 2,314 million), operation of the Centers (KRW 15,864 million), establishment of new Centers (KRW 1,007 million) and medical visit–companion services and care services (KRW 1,597 million). - In 2016, a total subsidy amount of KRW 21,775 million was provided to support medical services (KRW 2,195 million), operation of the Centers (KRW 17,346 million), establishment of new Centers (KRW 707 million) and medical visit–companion services and care services (KRW 1,527 million).

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
The Ministry of Gender Equality & Family, the lead Ministry of the initiative, has set up a consolidated support service system for victims of sexual assault and has provided a budget for the initiative; the Ministry of Justice and National Police Agency have provided a workforce to help investigations of sexual assault cases and testimonies; and hospitals have provided sites for the Centers, medical workforce and professional medical services. ㅇ The Ministry of Gender Equality & Family (MOGEF), as the lead Ministry, connects relevant agencies and coordinates resources - The Women’s and Youth Rights Promotion Bureau of the MOGEF drew up a basic plan to develop a model for Sunflower Center by setting up the Promotion Committee for an exclusive organization for child sexual assault. The Bureau also provided a legal basis for the establishment and continued operation of the Centers; developed educational programs to improve the expertise of staff members of the Centers; and conducted the selection of the operating agency, assessment, and consulting of the Centers. - Local governments offered matching funds to establish and operate Sunflower Center and approved and managed the project plan for the Centers. - The National Police Agency dispatched 130 female law enforcement officers dedicated to sexual assault victims to Sunflower Centers in order to support (video) recording of statements and investigation for evidence collection. The Ministry of Justice provided statement assistance services to support sexual assault victims who have difficulties defending themselves. - Hospitals stationed professionals, such as medical doctors and clinical psychologists, at the Centers to support medical treatments, medical diagnosis and psychological evaluation of victims. - In addition, Korea Legal Aid Corporation, Korea Bar Association and Korea Rape Crisis Center provide free legal services for victims of sexual assault.

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
ㅇ Reduced waiting time for services and increased service satisfaction - Sunflower Centers have made it possible for victims to take prompt measures in the early stages of sexual assault cases. Before the Center, sexual assault victims could wait as long as 2 weeks to get medical service, assistance in police investigation or other crucial services. With the Center now providing all services to victims in one visit, their waiting time has been significantly reduced. - According to a 2015 user satisfaction survey conducted among victims who used the Center’s services, the overall satisfaction with the services scored 4.46 out of 5. ㅇ Improved early emergency response system and expanded victim-oriented services - At Sunflower Centers, medical doctors such as pediatric psychiatrists, gynecologists and clinical psychologists, as well as law enforcement officers dedicated to sexual violence, are on stand-by to provide 24/7 services to allow victims to visit the Center whenever they need for necessary services. - Emergency medical service, clinical treatment, legal aid and other specialized services are given to vulnerable groups, such as women, children and the disabled, free of charge to reduce the financial burden of victims from disadvantaged backgrounds. - The number of services provided to sexual assault victims has increased every year, from 176,203 in 2013 to 238,127 in 2015 to 269,164 in 2016. ㅇ Increased number of Centers and the budget for the initiative - Since its first launch in 2004 to 2016, the number of Sunflower Centers around the nation has increased to 37. The total budget for the initiative to support sexual assault victims has almost doubled from KRW 18.7 billion in 2011 to KRW 34.6 billion in 2016. ㅇ A positive change in social perception about sexual assault victims - Sunflower Center’s consolidated support for investigations of sexual assault cases has minimized secondary victimization during the course of trial proceedings, and made it possible to secure scientific evidence with emergency kits while victims receive stable treatment to recover quickly. - Through academic activities at the academic society or medical associations, medical specialists made efforts to emphasize why systematic services need to be provided to victims of sexual assault. This has brought about a change in the medical community’s perception about sexual assault victims, which was previously indifferent to the treatment for the victims.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
ㅇ Concerns about the sustainability - To continue the initiative and supports, legitimate grounds were formed by including provisions for the establishment and operation of Sunflower Center in the Sexual Violence Prevention and Victims Protection Act in 2010 and by creating Protection Funds for Crime Victims. ㅇ Similar functions as existing private centers - We explained to the private centers that the Center’s support system has different, unique features and that the system works in conjunction with existing centers in a mutual, cooperative way. Private centers, NGO activists, or parents of the victims were appointed as members of the Center’s Steering Committee to oversee the management, creating a partner system between the Center and the private centers. ㅇ Conflicts arising from collaboration among participants from various fields - For Centers that gave up their operations due to deteriorating management and conflicts among staff from different fields, we consistently coordinated with staff to provide alternative hospitals. As for the Centers that could not conveniently provide services due to limited space, we provided additional operating expenses to improve the quality of services and maintain the support. - A standardized manual for victim support was produced and distributed to 37 Sunflower Centers nationwide to define the roles and responsibilities of participating organizations and to offer consistent quality of services in both big cities and rural areas. - In 2010, the Korea Support Center for Women and Children Victims of Violence began efforts to develop mutually cooperative relationships among staff. The efforts address any and all conflicts of interest among staff, providing training for the personnel involved in supporting sexual violence victims, programming for stress relief to prevent staff from experiencing burnout, workshops on victim support cases, meetings by each field, and consulting to help Sunflower Centers management and operations.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
ㅇ Improved access to the public service through victim-oriented support policy - Previously, counseling, medical services, investigation aid and other services for sexual assault victims were provided separately through different channels. Sunflower Centers offer all services to the victims at one time, helping them experience less psychological and physical discomfort. - All the expenses for medical treatments, nursing and psychology evaluation are provided free of charge to reduce the victims’ financial burden. - The number of cases in which the Centers provided services to one victim reached 8.5 in 2013, 11.7 in 2015 and 13.9 in 2016. - Also, various programs were provided to help the victims support themselves, such as treatment & recovery programs, self-help meetings, adaptation training, and vocational training. ㅇSunflower Centers have contributed to an increase in credibility of services and offering consistent services between regions. - With increased recognition of the Center’s services in society and victims’ improved awareness of the right to sexual self-determination, the number of sexual violence cases reported to Sunflower Center now account for 70 percent of all cases. - As victims in both cities and rural areas are provided with consistent quality in support services, including medical treatment, investigation aid and follow-up services, the confidence in the government’s support service for sexual assault victims has increased. ㅇ The initiative has contributed to the improvement of gender equality through enhanced support for victims of sexual assault caused by a gender hierarchy - Until 2013, sexual offenses were categorized as an offense subject to complaint (Antragsdelikt or called chingojoe in Korea) under Korean law, which cannot be prosecuted and punished without a complaint by the victim. In other words, if the victims did not want the perpetrators to be punished after being instigated to negotiate a settlement, the perpetrators could not be punished. - With the abolishment of the offense subject to complaint in June 2013, the improvement of related policies and strengthened support system for sexual assault victims, the ratio of recognition investigations by investigative agencies to the total number of sexual offenses has increased from 15.8 percent in 2012 to 29 percent in 2013. Also, increased awareness that victims can get help if they report the case has brought the number of sexual assault cases reported to the Sunflower Centers up from 16,735 in 2012 to 20,597 in 2013. - Given that 90 percent of victims of sexual assault are women as of 2016, the Centers can be recognized for contributing to the enhancement of gender equality by increasing the access to and credibility of support services for female victims.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
ㅇ The Sunflower Center is a support center for victims of sexual offenses, which is run in collaboration with the Ministry of Gender Equality & Family, the National Police Agency, local governments and medical institutions. The Center meets the accountability requirements of the government in terms of the delivery of a public service to prevent the effects of sexual offenses and to support the victims. - The Sexual Violence Prevention and Victims Protection Act stipulates that the State and local governments are obligated to establish and run Sunflower Center. ㅇ Efforts were made to diminish corruption. For example, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family and local governments allocated the budget with matching funds, reviewed and approved the plans of each Center, calculated the budget for post initiatives and balanced the budget spent on the initiative activities to claw money back in case the budget was executed for other purposes. ㅇ Apart from the performance assessment of the initiative by the Ministry of Gender Equality & Family and local governments, assessment and monitoring by external organizations such as the National Assembly and the Board of Audit and Inspection were conducted to improve the integrity of the Center’s services. - A qualified expert group regularly provides consulting on the operations of 37 Sunflower Centers nationwide and sets out an assessment system to evaluate the annual performance of the Centers.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
ㅇ The main beneficiaries of Sunflower Center are women, children, adolescents, and the disabled who are victims of sexual assault, and the families of these victims. They can use the Center and its services for free, including medical treatment and protection services. ㅇ The government offers medical treatment, nursing and care services, hospital companion services and legal services to sexual assault victims for free, if they are from one-person households, daughters of a single parent family and children of disabled parents, and if they are from low-income families. ㅇ Supports are offered to a broader range of victims considering the gravity of the damage. For instance, medical expenses are also granted to foreigners who were affected by sexual violence in Korea.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Ministry of Gender Equality and Family
Institution Type:   Government Department  
Contact Person:   Dong Keun Kang
Title:   Mr.  
Telephone/ Fax:   008221006388
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Address:   Jongno-gu Sejongdaero 209 Government Complex Seoul
Postal Code:   03171
City:   Seoul

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