1 in 9 female patients say suffered sexual harassment in Korea

SEOUL - A survey of female patients has found that more than 10 per cent felt sexually harassed while receiving medical treatment.

Nearly 12 per cent of adult female patients experienced sexual harassment in hospitals over the past five years, according to the Human Rights Law Foundation's survey of 1,000 people aged 19-59.

In the survey permitting multiple answers, a total of 255 cases of sexual harassment were documented.

Having to take off clothing in an open area made up the largest share of complaints at 18 per cent.

Medical personnel such as doctors making inappropriate sexual comments about one's physical appearance was also common, standing at 11.7 per cent. Up to 80.5 per cent of the medical personnel were men, according to the data.

Being asked about one's sex life and experience was reported by 9.8 per cent, while conducting intimate examinations irrelevant to the treatment stood at 9 per cent.

There were also two cases of attempted rape, the survey showed.

When broken down by facility, clinics to treat internal diseases were the most common location for incidents at 50.8 per cent. The foundation officials explained that these facilities frequently offer treatment for issues in the chest and abdominal regions of the body.

Maternity hospitals followed at 45.8 per cent, while orthopedic offices and oriental medical clinics stood at 24.6 per cent and 21.2 per cent, respectively.

Despite their unpleasant experiences, more than 24 per cent of victims did not take any action as they were confused as to whether the doctors' comments and behaviour were part of the treatment.

According to a 2012 survey conducted by an employment website, 4 out of 10 workers have experienced sexual harassment. Of the 405 respondents, 72.6 per cent of those who were harassed were women.