The Korea Herald

12 July 2022 Written by Lee Yoon-seo

Homeless women: Invisible specters of the streets

Photo: Lee Yoon-seo
The Korea Herald
This is because the reported number of homeless women is lower than homeless men, and homeless women are less likely to be seen in public.

As of 2021, they only made up
27 percent of the total homeless population.
Female homelessness has not been treated as a serious social problem, especially in South Korea.
Photo: 123rf
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However, statistics fail to reflect the reality, as the homeless women tend to be “invisible”.
Lee Hee-seo, an official from the Homeless Memorial Foundation
Photo: 123rf
“They often go to saunas, public bathrooms, hospitals, or churches to sleep. This leads to a vicious cycle, where the homeless women receive less public service for not being statistically detectable. There must be many more them than the statistics show.”
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Data confirms the assumption.
Based on a 2012 survey, while the homeless women population took up 7 percent of the total, the number of new homeless women signing up for public service was estimated to be more than 10.5 percent.

When sheltering systems began the same year, the sign-up percentage reached 20 percent.

Photo: Lee Yoon-seo
The Korea Herald

**2016 survey on the conditions of homeless people
“Men kick you just for sitting at their territory…Unless you give them what they want, which is usually sex, no women can stand the night outside.”
Choi Won-soon (65)
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They stay below the surface because of the dangers
they face on the streets.

While the homeless women are more prone to violence and sexual harassment, the male homeless were more prone to fraud, theft and extortion on the streets.
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However, because of their low population count, there are very few facilities that can house them.
In fact, there are only 12 female-only homeless facilities in South Korea, as of 2018.
Plus, there are only three shelters that house homeless pregnant women and homeless women with children in the country.
It is even more difficult for women with children
to be admitted, because it is rare for homeless shelters to be adequately equipped to accept children.

Photo: Lee Yoon-seo
**Open Women's Center, Hongje-dong
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“The government’s only focused on finding people on the ‘streets.’

In reality, there are many more female homeless people.

One of the most efficient ways to bring the female homeless up from below the surface is realizing the situation in female-only shelters.

There are just too many of them coming into the shelters.

The government needs to face the reality by looking in here and building more centers.”

Kim, deputy director of Open Women's Center

Photo: Lee Yoon-seo
The Korea Herald