North Korea: Sexual Violence Against Women by Officials
Impunity for Assault and Rape by Men in Power
North Korean officials commit sexual violence with little concern for the consequences, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. The government fails to investigate and prosecute complaints, or to provide protection and services to victims, and even asserts that the country is implausibly free of sexism or sexual violence.
The 86-page report, “‘You Cry at Night, but Don’t Know Why’: Sexual Violence against Women in North Korea,” documents unwanted sexual contact and violence that is so common in North Korea it has come to be accepted as part of ordinary life. Many North Koreans told Human Rights Watch that when an official in a position of power “picks” a woman she has no choice but to comply with any demands he makes, whether for sex, money, or other favors. Women interviewed said that the sexual predators include high-ranking party officials, prison and detention facility guards and interrogators, police and secret police officials, prosecutors, and soldiers. Fearful of social disgrace and retaliation, and with few, if any, avenues for redress, North Korean women rarely report abuse.
“Sexual violence in North Korea is an open, unaddressed, and widely tolerated secret,” said Kenneth Roth, Human Rights Watch’s executive director. “North Korean woman 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.” ......