North Korean defector Jo Jin Hye, who was granted political asylum in the United States in 2008, looks back on the dark days of her incarceration in a detention center in the Chinese border city of Tumen:
A Chinese prison guard came in and said there was an inspection. He was a man in his 30s, and he had been sent to do body searches of women.
In the detention center, the staff refused to give us sanitary products, so we had nothing to use when our menstruation came around. We would use whatever we had to hand; bits of blanket, ripped off. Then, if they discovered it, they would force us to eat it. If we didn’t, they would hit us really hard, until our faces swelled up and we were spitting blood, and couldn’t walk.
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There was a woman who was five months’ pregnant, and she was sitting down, leaning against a wall. A prison guard came in and started beating us all with a baton. He beat an old lady nearly half to death, and the pregnant woman as well. The pregnant woman bled for several days after that.
I was afraid she would lose the child, because she had been trying for a child for three years. I knew that child was very important to her. So I ran over there and grabbed the guard’s leg, saying “Don’t beat her. She’s five months pregnant and not in good health, and she bleeds all the time. If you carry on, she’ll lose the baby.”
He replied: “Who cares? It’s not mine, anyway.” That’s what he said.
[Radio Free Asia]