Korean Public Opinion Survey on Unwed
200905_Korean Public Opinion Survey on Unwed Mothers and their Children.pdf Mothers and their Children
Childbirth outside of wedlock (of single mothers) is estimated to be about 6,000 to 10,000 children in Korea per year. However, the exact number is unknown. Even though the socio-cultural values of Korea emphasize awe and dignity on life, the reason for this is originated from the social norm that legitimizes pregnancy and childbirth only through the legal relation so called "marriage." Accordingly, the sexual experience and childbirth by unmarried couples are considered to be completely private, yet, at the same time, is considered to be serious matter that brings disgrace especially to family.
However, as the age of first sexual experience gets low and society starts to accept sex openly, taboo on premarital sex is significantly eased. Under the social circumstance that admits grown-up’s premarital sexual relationship as a personal choice, the tendency to admit grown up’s premarital sexual relationship gets alleviated that it is ethically wrong and sinful. Nevertheless, different from the changing perspective, public view on women who become pregnant and give childbirth as a single mother is still not favorable, often leading to the denial of women’s civil and maternal rights. Such social prejudice and inhospitality affect single women who give up raising the child after birth with temptation of abortion. As a result, Korea, where abortion is illegal, records approximately 350,000 to 1,500,000 abortion cases per year. The number is very striking compared to the annual birth rate of 600,000 to 800,000.
The wrong perspective toward special groups of people often brings the lack of intimacy or constant social distance based on certain attributes, value, or external characters that they hold. Sometimes, the wrong perspective induces material disadvantage, subjective deprivation and discrimination by taking their life opportunities or rights away directly and indirectly (KWDI, 2004). Single mothers are branded as a fringer in a sense that they disobeyed the social norm and gave birth outside of the sacred marriage system which solely provides legitimacy.
This condemnation does not only intimidate single mothers psychologically, but also make them feel separated from society. Needless to say, psychological pressure acts as a structural barrier that keeps single mothers silent, prohibiting them from making accurate remarks or asking for support during their current conditions. Even though most of societies do not give single mothers hospitality, the degree and way of social acceptance and view on single mothers vary by the socio-cultural differences around women, sexuality, and the family system.
Therefore, it is worthy to give serious consideration to the social prejudice and degree of stigma in a sense they result from differences in policy.
However, in Korea, it is hard to find a study on Korean’s perspective and attitude toward single mothers and their children in spite of many previous studies on single mothers. There exists only one previous study on the attitude of local single mothers in Jeju Island. This study was limited to 543 local people in Jeju and is not enough to be applied as generalized attitude of Koreans (Moon,Eui-Seug, Lim, Ae-Doek, 2005). Moreover, many previous studies have all pointed out negative consequences; from social prejudice to its stigma toward single mothers and their children. However, any scientific approach of finding the degree and true reason for social prejudice has not been tried. Therefore, this
study examines the degree of acceptance, perception and attitude of Koreans toward single parents, overall public opinions on the direction of political measures and priority.