‘He raped methen offered me a house’: N Korean defectors detail horrific stories of sexual violence

13-Mar-2018 Intellasia | Yahoo News UK | 6:00 AM Print This Post

Female North Korean defectors have revealed the scale of abuse they have suffered inside the hermit kingdom in a shocking new report about the sexual violence perpetrated against women of every class, age and status.

Accounts of prisoners having their vaginas forcibly searched for money by guards; rape victims being banished from cities; and politicians exchanging houses for sexual favours detail a country in which women are routinely subjected to the most harrowing forms of abuse at all levels of society.

The shocking stories follow two years of research and interviews with more than 40 female exiles living in London and Seoul, conducted by the Korea Future Initiative.

The report aims to shed light on the systemic rape culture of a country that releases no official sexual assault statistics.

The report says the government’s reports on the protection of women are designed to obscure realities. Nevertheless, interviewees hailing from geographically and socially diverse locations had all either personally experienced sexual violence; had known of a family member, friend, or colleague who had experienced sexual violence; or knew exiled countrywomen who were survivors.

One woman, who the report identifies as Kim, was imprisoned in the Sinuiju labour camp.

“The guards called girls into a room and ordered them to take off their clothes. There were girls who were fifteen or sixteen years old and they started to cry. The guards would put on rubber gloves and push their hands inside the girls’ vaginas to check if they had money.

“The girls were still virgins and had not even started their menstrual cycles. They would bleed and cry. The guards kept doing this even though they did not find any money.”

Gil was similarly abused when she approached her town’s mayor to ask for somewhere to stay.

“I was thirty-two years old and I must have looked attractive in his eyes. I was raped in his office and received a house in return. I could not tell anyone about what happened. What I want to say is this: In North Korea, a woman’s dream cannot be achieved without being raped or without selling her body.”

Even more financially secure women regularly found themselves at the sexual whim of their male bosses.

Wi explained how officials from the Ministry of Public Health abused her friend at a hospital in Pyongyang:

“If they saw a young nurse or employee they admired, they would whisper in the ear of the chief hospital official who accompanied their inspection. The woman would then be taken, sometimes forcibly, to a secluded room and abused by the officials. My friend told me that she was sedated on one occasion, but after that she stopped resisting. She could not tell me what the officials did to her.”

The problem extended not only to the domestic setting, where resisting rape would lead to scorn from other women, but to school.

After her father was reassigned to work in Pyongyang, then school pupil Cha noticed two of her classmates had gone missing for more than an hour during a day of labour. They never returned to the class and their families were exiled from the city.

Sang, who was imprisoned for ‘guilt-by-association’ at four years-old, told of girls abused in work camps.

“There were no exceptions to work, but if girls were liked by the camp personnel they were assigned easier work. I saw lots of senior camp staff ‘playing’ with girls. If the girls did not do what they were told, they knew they would remain in the camp all of their lives.”



Category: Korea

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