North Korea Defectors Say Forced Abortions on Female Prisoners Routine

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 29, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

North Korea Defectors Say Forced Abortions on Female Prisoners Routine Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
September 29
, 2006

Pyongyang, North Korea ( — Another report about the prison situation in North Korea confirms previous ones which have maintained that pregnant women in prisons there are routinely subjected to forced abortions. The Asian nation has been repeatedly condemned for its human rights abuses and the new report features firsthand accounts from North Korean refugees.

The Korean Bar Association, based in South Korea, released the new report which is based in interviews with about 100 North Korean defectors who came to the South after 2000.

The report shows that North Korean officials frequently jail citizens of the Asian nation on bogus charges and do not abide by the law when doing so. Some of the abuses include torture and sexual harassment of female inmates.

In the case of women in prison, 58 percent of the defectors interviewed said they had seen women be forced to have an abortion or had heard about such abortions take place.

This is the first time the Bar Association has released a report on North Korea’s human rights record since 1989 when it started monitoring the human rights record of South Korea.

Lee Kook-jae, a member of the bar association, told the Korea Times, "We researched North Korea’s human rights condition from the legal point of view for the first time. The world should make efforts to improve human rights there."

In March, a doctor who defected form Communist-controlled North Korea told a human rights panel that few disabled people are living in the Asian nation because physicians kill any newborn babies with physical disabilities shortly after birth.
Ri Kwang-ch told the panel that infanticide of disabled babies is widespread, but said he didn’t participate in the practice before fleeing the country last year.

"There are no people with physical defects in North Korea," Ri told members of the New Right Union, a group that partners human rights activists with North Korean refugees.

According to a Reuters report, Ri said disabled babies were killed in hospitals or homes and quickly buried. He indicated the North Korean government encourages the practice to "purify" its population and get rid of people who are "different."

During emotional testimony in Seoul last year, a woman named Kim Chun Ae described the horrors of life in a North Korean prison. She said authorities there “forced a woman who was eight months pregnant to have an abortion just because the father of the baby was Chinese.”

She also said that a number of girls are sold to traffickers as sex slaves. It’s a situation that could leave young women especially vulnerable to abortion.

"I remember crying when I thought of a 12-year-old girl who was sold to traffickers. Children at her age need care and protection from their parents. But they are sold to traffickers and forced to live as sex slaves. Girls aged 17 to 19 were sold in one place, to be resold to other places by traffickers," Kim said.

An early 2005 U.S. State Department report on conditions in North Korea stated, “The [government of North Korea’s] human rights record remained extremely poor, and it continued to commit numerous serious abuses."

The Bush Administration report added, “Defectors have reported that government officials prohibit live births in prison."

"Prison conditions were harsh and life-threatening, and torture reportedly was common," the report explained. "Pregnant female prisoners reportedly underwent forced abortions, and in other cases babies reportedly were killed upon birth in prisons."

North Korea officials also torture women from China who are fleeing that Asian nation to escape its coercive one-child policy that has resulted in similar forced abortions, forced sterilizations and imprisonment.

The report said prison officials force mothers recently repatriated from China to watch the infanticide of their newly born infants.

"According to defectors who were imprisoned in the 1990s, in cases of live birth, the child was immediately killed," the State Department report revealed. "[T]he reason given for this policy was to prevent the birth of half-Chinese children."

Related web sites:

State Department Report on North Korea –