North Korean girls as young as 12 are being smuggled into China and sold for sex, a not-for-profit organisation has claimed.
Korea Future Initiative, which rescues sex workers, says the industry is worth around $105,000,000 and girls as young as 12 are being forced to have sex for $4 or sold as ‘wives’ for $146.
The explosive report into sex slavery claims that 60% of female North Korean refugees that arrive in China end up working in the sex trade, with 50% forced into prostitution, 30% into forced marriage and 15% forced to work in ‘cyber sex’.
It is believed the illicit trade dates back to the 1980s and has grown into a multi-million dollar industry.
The report says: “Bought, sold, and exploited until their bodies are depleted, many North Korean victims of China’s sex trade never escape the consequences of the sexual violence they endure.
“Numerous testimonies spoke of victims of prostitution who have perished in China from sexually transmitted diseases and physical abuse.”
Around 41% of women who end up trapped in the sex trade have been coerced once they arrive in China but 18% are kidnapped once they reach the country - with a total of 84% of all those in the sex trade enslaved, trapped or forced into it.
The report contains a number of harrowing testimonies from women who have managed to escape.
Among them is a woman, known as Ms Jeon, who said: “Three men abducted me [close to the border].
“It was nearly dark and they put me in their car and drove me into the mountains.
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“The oldest man raped me first. I became unconscious when the other [two men] raped me.
“When I woke up I was bleeding and they had tied me to a tree (…) The next day one of the men came back (…) [He] sold me to a broker.”
Another woman claims she was picked up by police and taken to a police station only to be later sold to a broker.
Another woman shared her experience.
Ms Im said: “I was already employed on [the] farm [in Liaoning Province, China] when a man told me I could earn more money in the city.
“I needed money (…) so I agreed. It makes me angry today, but I was not suspicious [of the man] (...) He came the next night and drove [me] to a barbershop in a town near Anshan. I was sold [into prostitution].”
Many women are sold into the sex trade once, with around 41% being sold to one ‘master’ but 45% are sold for a second time while a further 14% are sold more than three times.