20 Cases of Sexual Violence Were Reported at the Winter Olympics
The four sexual violence support centers at the 2018 Winter Olympics were the first of their kind.
The medals have been awarded and the Olympic flag has been handed over — the 2018 Winter Olympics are officially over.
But not all records set at this year’s Winter Olympics are worth celebrating.
Twenty people reported incidents of sexual harassment or assault to support centers at the Olympics complex between Feb. 9, when the Olympic Games began, and Feb. 23, when they ended, according to Mic.
Though officials declined to provide details about the profile of individuals who had reported incidents, the four support centers stationed around the Olympic Park in Pyeongchang, South Korea, were created to provide support to the thousands of visitors and volunteers at the games.
Athletes were also welcome to seek help at the Gender Equality Support Centers — the first sexual violence resource centers to ever have been set up at the Olympics — though their devoted medical clinics were also staffed with psychologists and psychiatrists to help handle incidents of abuse, the Huffington Post reported.
Jeon Won Hee, a counselor at one of the Gender Equality Support Centers, told NBC early during the games that she was worried people would be resistant to having support centers at the Olympics, but they proved to be a useful resource for dozens of people.
The centers will remain in place for the upcoming 2018 Winter Paralympics that will take place in Pyeongchang next month, and similar resources are expected to be available at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, Kim Sung-sook, the head of one of the support centers, said.
Though 20 people reported incidents of sexual violence, it’s likely that many others experienced harassment or assault, but did not come forward.
"It's not how many cases were reported, but that victims came forward and that a support system was made available to them," a support center director, Eun So Yoon, told NBC. "The Olympics and the Paralympics have been set up for our joy. If we can help alleviate any of the gender violence, then it was worth them opening."
Jeon called the creation of the centers “symbolic,” but said that the most important for people to know is that “sexual violence can occur anywhere at any time.”
In the wake of South Korea’s growing #MeToo movement, this is a crucial message for people to hear.
On Monday, South Korean President Moon Jae-in voiced his support for the movement and the victims of assault and harassment in South Korea’s entertainment and legal industries, Agence France Presse reported.
"We need to use this momentum to expose the problem [of sex abuse] no matter how humiliating and shameful it is,” Moon said. "It can be solved only by changing the culture and our way of mind.”
Since dozens of women came forward with sexual assault allegations against Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein at the end of last year, women around the world have banded together to say #MeToo, spurring a wave of activism.
Global Citizen campaigns in support of gender equality and women’s rights. You can take action here to call on world leaders to #LeveltheLaw and help amend gender discriminatory policies to prevent sexual violence against women.