Along the tortuous road to defection, many North Korean women and girls fall victim to human traffickers or lived in extremely adverse conditions, and consequently are in worse health than men, a study conducted by Seoul National University found.
In April, the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs studied the health of 6,500 North Korean defectors who had arrived in South Korea between 2000 and 2005. It found a high infection rate for syphilis, at 1.8 percent in 2004 and 2.1 percent in 2005.
Women are also thought to have experienced far higher rates of rape and sexual assault, often through being trafficked by criminal gangs.
Of 700 women aged 20 to 49 hosted by the Hanawon reception center outside Seoul, one out of five suffered from some type of gynecological disorder.
[Radio Free Asia]