A shocking new report by a human rights agency has identified the horrific levels of sexual abuse committed against women in North Korea and urged the international community to pressure the government to prosecute perpetrators of sexual violence.
A number of North Koreans who fled the country after 2011 shared with Human Rights Watch how government officials regularly forced them into sex and punished any kind of refusal further sexual violence, beatings, forced labor, and other mistreatment
Oh Jung-hee, one of several women to escape the North Korean regime who spoke with the organization, said that on numerous occasions, she was coerced into sexual acts or intercourse by guards at her place of employment.
"I was a victim many times ... 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," she said.
"What can we do? They consider us [sex] toys ... We [women] are at the mercy of men. Now, women cannot survive without having men with power near them."
Another woman, Park Young Hee, revealed she was captured by secret police and put in the pre-trial detention facility near Musan city in North Hamgyong after attempting to flee to China in 2011. While in detention, she was repeatedly sexually abused by guards.
"My life was in his hands, so I did everything he wanted and told him everything he asked. How could I do anything else? ... Everything we do in North Korea can be considered illegal, so everything can depend on the perception or attitude of who is looking into your life," the victim explained.
The HRW report explained that the North Koreans they spoke with told them that unwanted sexual contact and violence "is so common that it has come to be accepted as part of ordinary life: sexual abuse by officials, and the impunity they enjoy, is linked to larger patterns of sexual abuse and impunity in the country."
"The precise number of women and girls who experience sexual violence in North Korea, however, is unknown. Survivors rarely report cases, and the North Korean government rarely publishes data on any aspect of life in the country."
The human rights group urged the North Korean government to issue orders for all public serving members to investigate and prosecute rape and other acts of sexual violence. It also called on the international community to put pressure on the North Korean government to implement such initiatives.
As earlier reported by The Gospel Herald, North Korean defector Ji Hyeon-A previously opened up about the atrocities she endured in the isolated country, including how she was forced to have an abortion without medication following her repatriation from China.
She shared how, the third time she was returned to North Korea, she was three months pregnant with her first child. Because North Korea does not allow for mixed-race babies, she was one of hundreds of women forced to have an abortion without medication at a local police station.
"My first child passed away without ever seeing the world, without any time for me to apologize," she said. "Pregnant women were forced into harsh labor all day. At night, we heard pregnant mothers screaming and babies died without ever being able to see their mothers."
She described North Korea as "a terrifying prison and the Kim's are carrying out a vast massacre and it takes a miracle to survive there" and called on the international community to fight such atrocities.
North Korea is ranked no. 1 on Open Door USA's World Watch List of countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian.