Under the rule of Kim Jong-Un, North Korea remains among the world’s most repressive countries. The government sharply curtails all basic liberties, including freedom of expression, religion and conscience, assembly, and association. It prohibits political opposition, independent media, civil society, or trade unions. A 2014 UN Commission of Inquiry found that the government committed gross, systematic and widespread rights abuses, including extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions, and other sexual violence. North Korea operates secretive prison camps where perceived opponents of the government are sent to face torture, starvation rations, and forced labor. Fear of collective punishment is used to silence dissent.

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  • United Nations
    Human Rights Watch thanks Special Rapporteur Tomas Ojea Quintana for his work on human rights in North Korea, and in particular his attention to abuses against women documented in his latest report. Sex and gender-based discrimination and subordination of women are pervasive in North Korea. Stereotyped gender roles are set in childhood. Government and society are thoroughly dominated by men. Acts of violence against women are prevalent, including physical, sexual and psychological harm, threats, coercion and arbitrary detention. North Korean escapees have told Human Rights Watch that in mixed-gender classes, boys are almost always made leaders; even though most teachers are women,  male teachers usually make decisions. Escapees have also said it is harder for women to access university and join the military, and by extension, the ruling Korean Workers Party, which serves as a gateway to positions of power in North Korea.

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