Washington D. C. [USA]: Sexual harassment offences against women by people in positions of power like government officials and the police in North Korea are normal and part of a women’s daily routine.
A report by the Human Rights Watch, a global, non-governmental organisation, which prepared the report by interviewing at least 50 North Koreans who fled the country, gives an insight into the everyday happenings in markets, detention facilities, checkpoints, army bases, etc, Fox News reported citing a Guardian report.
“The North Koreans we spoke with told us 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 report read.
“Interviewees told us that when a guard or police officer ‘picks’ a woman, she has no choice but to comply with any demands he makes, whether for sex, money or other favours. Women in custody have little choice should they attempt to refuse or complain afterwards, and risk sexual violence, longer periods in detention, beatings, forced labour or increased scrutiny while conducting market activities,” the report added.
A woman, who escaped North Korea in 2014, described her experiences in a prison, where she was sexually abused by a guard.
“Click, click, click was the most horrible sound I ever heard. It was the sound of the key of the cell of our prison room opening. Every night a prison guard would open the cell. I stood still quietly, acting like I didn’t notice, hoping it wouldn’t be me the one to have to follow the guard, hoping it wouldn’t be him,” she said.
“It happens so often nobody thinks it is a big deal. Men who sexually assault women don’t think it is wrong, and we (women) do not either. We don’t even realize when we are upset. But we are human, and we feel it. So sometimes, out of nowhere, you cry at night and don’t know why,” another woman said.
The report comes amid North Korea’s ongoing nuclear disarmament efforts, led by the United States.
While North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s propaganda has labelled the country a “socialist paradise” and completely crime-free, Kenneth Roth, the executive director of the Human Rights Watch said that the country cannot overlook the report.
“After this report, North Korea can’t say sexual violence doesn’t exist, so they have to either change their tune or fix the problem. Kim Jong-un could stop this, he could enforce the laws North Korea already has on the books,” Roth said.