Human Rights Watch: North Korean women face sex abuse in marketplaces

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One woman, who had been sexually assaulted many times, said officials considered women to be "sex toys".

Human Rights Watch's recent report alleging rampant abuse against women in North Korea is a underhanded attempt to undermine progress on inter-Korean talks, Christine Hong, a member of the Korea Policy Institute, told Sputnik.

It reveals an oppressive world where officials - from police officers and prison guards to market supervisors - faced virtually no consequences for their routine abuse of women.

"I think President Moon is naive and short-sighted to pretend that human rights can wait", he said, urging Seoul to "stop accepting negotiations exclusively on the terms of the North Korean government".

'Every night a prison guard would open the cell.

One woman interviewed in the report said a police agent penetrated her several times with his fingers while questioning her illegal stay in China.

The issue is discussed so little in North Korea that researchers found that concepts such as domestic violence and sexual violence had no clear definition.

In an email to VOA, the South Korea's unification ministry wrote, "The government places emphasis on human rights in the notion of universal value and ethnicity, and strives to continuously improve the quality of life for North Koreans". Eight women who were former prisoners described experiencing "sexual, verbal, and physical abuse" at the hands of authorities.

For the report, HRW interviewed 54 North Koreans who fled the country after Kim Jong Un took power in 2011. A woman's position in society is lower than a man's, and her reputation depends largely on maintaining an image of "sexual purity" and obeying the men in her family.

"Sexual violence in North Korea is an open, unaddressed and widely tolerated secret", Kenneth Roth, Human Rights Watch's executive director, said in a statement.

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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.

'But we are human, and we feel it, ' she said.

"Sometimes", she said of the psychological torment from such abuse, "out of nowhere, you cry at night and don't know why".

But the concept of rape is different in the North, the report added, where it is seen as applying only if violence is used.

"Click, click, click was the most awful sound I ever heard", Yoon was quoted as saying in the report.

"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.

A cartoon released by Human Rights Watch on November 1, 2018, shows a female merchant offering bribes to a North Korean government official. However, critics say North Korea's human rights status has been ignored as nuclear negotiation talks continue. Roth asserted North Korean leader Kim Jong Un could end the problem "tomorrow" and not affect his grasp on power, yet "would make an enormous difference for the lives of North Korean women".

South Korea's spy agency has observed preparations by North Korea for global inspections at several of its nuclear and missile test sites, the Yonhap news agency said on Wednesday, citing a South Korean lawmaker.

"There's a lot of work which remains, and Chairman Kim has made clear to me - just as plain as I'm speaking to you, Laura - that he has the intention to denuclearize and we'll do everything we can to assist him in following through on that commitment".

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