Tuesday, June 20, 2006

North Korean women subject to human trafficking

Over the years, field surveys conducted by human rights organizations documented that over 50% of North Korean women have been subjected to human trafficking, sold as wives to Chinese farmers, sold as sex slaves to brothels, and sexually exploited.

These statistics are now believed to be much higher, because now it is not just Chinese that are selling North Korean women and young girls but even desperate North Koreans are selling their own citizens.

Tim Peters of Helping Hands Korea believes that at least 70% and possibly 90% of North Korean refugee females have been victimized by trafficking. He described one such victim, Kim Mi-Soon. Kim's parents died and she was left to fend for herself until a woman from a nearby town offered to take Kim to China to live with her relatives. She went gratefully. It was not until she reached China that she discovered the deception: the woman sold her to a Chinese man. She was sexually abused, beaten and treated like a piece of property.

Despite the abuse, Kim considers herself very fortunate, because she will tell you: "I was only sold once. Most of the teenage girls from my home town, 15 and 16 year olds have been sold 3 and 4 times as sex slaves." Many of these young women are terrified to come forward to tell their stories because of the stigma that they have to live with for the abuse they endured.

[Excerpted from speech given by Suzanne Scholte at Congressional-Executive Commission on China Issues Roundtable]

Suzanne Scholte is President of the Defense Forum Foundation and Chairman of North Korea Freedom Day being sponsored by the North Korea Freedom Coalition. She is also a Founding Board Member of the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea and a Founding Member and Advisor of the North Korea Freedom Coalition.

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