A new film opening in Huntington Beach tonight has prompted outraged viewers to demand tougher penalties for sex crimes and stronger laws to protect children and the disabled from sexual abuse.
No, it's not Puss in Boots.
It's Silenced or Dogani (The Crucible), and perhaps the title confusion will become clearer once you know it was made in South Korea, which is also where the outraged folks are.
The movie is based on a bestselling novel and a real-life 2005 case where deaf female students as young as 7 were raped and sexually abused by school officials at Gwangju Inhwa School for the hearing impaired. Only two of the four abusers were ultimately convicted and handed light sentences. One, the school's principal, bought his way out of jail.
The book that was published in 2009 brought the case back into the public eye, and the resulting film has been seen by more than 4 million viewers, according to producers, who count among the audience South Korean President Lee Myung-bak.
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Reaction to the movie led South Korea's National Assembly to pass a sexual crimes reform bill that increases sentences up to life in prison for abusing the disabled and children under 13. What's become known as "Dogani Law" after the film title has also abolished a controversial "inability to resist" clause that forced disabled victims to prove they were physically or mentally unable to resist their attackers, thus making it easier for predators to prey on them.
The Gwangju Inhwa School has officially shut down, but promoters of the movie are selling "Break the Silence" charity t-shirts in hopes of raising money for the organization that provides shelter for the actual victims of the abuse. Meanwhile, Silenced opens across North America tonight, including at the Century 20 at Bella Terra in Huntington Beach.
Here is the trailer: