North Korea prepares nuclear test site for inspectors

North Korea prepares nuclear test site for inspectors

North Korea prepares nuclear test site for inspectors

While Kim has pledged to focus more on developing North Korea's economy, the black markets that have become a vital source of income for many families are one place where sexual violence is rampant.

Almost everyone in North Korea is subject to abuse by the brutal Communist regime, but the report argues women are exceptionally vulnerable because corrupt soldiers and government officials demand sexual favors as bribes.

The report is based on interviews with 54 people who have fled the oppressive regime since 2011, the year Kim Jong-un came into power.

Harrowing accounts of widespread sexual abuse allegedly carried out by North Korean officials against ordinary women have been laid out in a new report, that details evidence of a culture where officials commit acts with near total impunity.

"My life was in his hands, so I did everything he wanted".

She said she had never reported being raped to police and didn't know anybody else who had reported sexual assault to authorities.

The report also points out that even the language to describe sexual assault is limited in North Korea as is the understanding of what constitutes rape and sexual assault.

South Korea's foreign ministry said Seoul would work with the global community to make practical improvements for human rights in North Korea, and that by pursuing peace and warmer inter-Korean relationships, a positive improvement on human rights in North Korea can be achieved.

When they are caught and repatriated, they are exposed to widespread sexual and other abuse in holding centers and prisons, according to Human Rights Watch, whose report echoed earlier findings on that issue.

FILE - South Korean President Moon Jae-in meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at Peace House of the Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone, South Korea, April 27, 2018. 'So sometimes, out of nowhere, you cry at night and don't know why'.

'North Korean women would probably say "Me Too" if they thought there was any way to obtain justice, but their voices are silenced in Kim Jong Un's dictatorship, ' he added.

"Every night a prison guard would open the cell door".

"On the days they felt like it, market guards or police officials could ask me to follow them to an empty room outside the market, or some other place they'd pick", where they forced sexual encounters, she said.

He said North Korea should also accept worldwide assistance on how to hold officials accountable for abuses and how to protect victims who fear coming forward.

Now that I think about it ... they wear uniforms and have the law on their side, the way they treat women should not be like [sexual] toys.

"Every night some woman would be forced to leave with a guard and be raped", said one abuse victim in her 30s who was once held at a border detention centre.

North Korea strongly rejected the report, calling the allegations "trite" and "fictitious".

Medical professionals who fled the repressive country said that "there were no protocols for medical treatment and examination of victims of sexual violence to provide therapeutic care or secure medical evidence", the report said.

North Korea has stopped nuclear and missile tests in the past year, but it did not allow worldwide inspections of its dismantling of Punggye-ri in May, drawing criticism that the action was merely for show and could be reversed.

Roth told Reuters he was deeply frustrated with dictator Kim Jong-un's reticence to engage the issue because addressing sexual abuse would pose no threat to his power, it would raise his stature in the worldwide community, and it would help North Korea open its economy to the outside world as Kim desires.

According to data submitted by Pyongyang to an United Nations panel on gender equality a total of five people were convicted of rape in the North in 2015. I stood still quietly, acting like I didn't notice, hoping it wouldn't be me, ' she said.

Human Rights Watch executive director Ken Roth said in some instances officials demanded sexual favours from women in lieu of bribes.

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