Gender and Migration from North Korea

Written by
Erin Engstran, Caitlin Flynn and Meg Harris
May 1, 2020

By Erin Engstran, Caitlin Flynn and Meg Harris 


Women make up more than 80 percent of North Korean migrants to South Korea. This paper provides a gendered analysis of their migration and offers recommendations to address the systematic oppression and abuse of North Korean migrant women and girls. Gendered human rights abuses and societal shifts in gender roles due to famine contributed to women leaving in record numbers. On the journey, often via China, women face human trafficking fueled by China’s skewed sex ratios, sexual violence, and the threat of extradition back to North Korea where defectors are imprisoned, tortured, or killed. Even those who successfully complete the journey suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, discrimination, and difficulty adjusting into South Korean society. Interventions and policies must acknowledge the gendered dimension of migration to effectively address the harm North Korean women and girls experience. 


Migration out of North Korea is a story of women and gendered policies. The brutal North Korean dictatorship, upheld by a system of corruption and abuse, is responsible for egregious human rights abuses, many of which are gendered and have contributed to changing migration demographics out of North Korea. Thousands of defectors, now predominantly women, risk torture and execution each year to flee North Korea for a chance to escape the repressive regime. Many arrive in China with the ultimate goal of reaching South Korea, but are seized by Chinese officials and sent back to North Korea before completing the journey—in violation of China’s legal obligations to uphold the principle of non-refoulement as a signatory to the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention.[1] Faced with the prospect of repatriation, female refugees are especially vulnerable to abuse, as they lack the means and social networks to travel, work, protect themselves, and report abuse. Along the perilous journey, female refugees consistently negotiate trade-offs between their immediate personal safety and long-term security, often exchanging one type of gendered violence for another. Policies and interventions designed to support female refugees from North Korea cannot be successful without a deep understanding of the gendered aspects of their migration.

Push Factors for Migration from North Korea

There are many motivating factors that push North Koreans to risk the dangers associated with escape. The gendered aspects of state-perpetuated human rights abuses and patriarchal societal structures have pushed women to leave at higher rates than men. Between 1998 and 2002, the gender balance of DPRK migrants fleeing to South Korea flipped from mostly male to predominantly female. While in 1998 women made up only 12 percent of refugees into South Korea, by 2002 female migration reached 55 percent and stood at 80 percent in 2019 (South Korean Ministry of Unification 2020). 

State Abuses and Sexual Violence

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea) is responsible for some of the world’s worst human rights abuses. North Koreans live with frequent power outages, information embargoes, and arbitrary detention. As punishment for unproven crimes, people are sent to labor camps and even sentenced to death. Anyone who is perceived to be a threat of any kind to Kim Jong-un’s regime may be labeled an enemy of the state and subjected to beatings, systematic starvation, and torture (United Nations Human Rights Council 2014, 240). Perceived political crimes are punished for three generations in order to eliminate “factionalists and class enemies” (United Nations Human Rights Council 2014, 63). 

Sexual violence is endemic in North Korean detention. According to a report from the UN Human Rights Council, female prisoners are coerced into providing sexual favors in exchange for food or less severe labor assignments. A 2014 Human Rights Council report noted, “The guards had the prettier among the female inmates sit close to the bars, so that they could grope their breasts. The same witness also knew several women who agreed to sexual contacts with the guards to receive more than the usual starvation rations or other benefits that allowed them to survive” (United Nations Human Rights Council 2014, 255).

Female prisoners are punished for pregnancies. They may be given harsher labor assignments, subjected to forced abortions, or executed. Children born in state detention are killed without exception (United Nations Human Rights Council 2014, 238). Officials perpetrate sexual violence with impunity, and women very rarely report abuse for fear of reprisal. Women in state custody experience longer periods of detention, beatings, or forced labor if they attempt to refuse the officials or speak out (Human Rights Watch 2018, 2). North Korean women who are routinely harassed, sexually assaulted, and arbitrarily detained by authorities and law enforcement officials are especially incentivized to escape the abuse by fleeing North Korea.

Abuse in the Domestic Sphere

Gender inequality is deeply embedded in North Korean society. Although the state was founded and organized based on the principles of Marxist communism, patriarchal interpretations of Confucianism have played a major role in shaping North Korean society (Lim 2018). Women and men are deeply segregated in most parts of daily life, ranging from work assignments to gender-segregated dinner tables, where women receive smaller portions of food (Demick 2008, 13-14). Studies have found that an alarming 70 percent of North Korean women are routinely abused by their husbands, and there are no legal sanctions against domestic violence (Um et al. 2016, 2038). Language in North Korea fundamentally lacks the vocabulary to discuss sexual, gender-based, and domestic violence, which contributes to the underreporting of abuse (Human Rights Watch 2018, 14).

Despite well-documented systemic sexual abuse at the state and domestic levels, in 2015 there were only five rape convictions in all of North Korea. North Korean officials tout this statistic as proof of a society free from sexual violence (Human Rights Watch 2018, 14). Instead, this statistic illustrates the dearth of protections for survivors of abuse and the lack of accountability mechanisms. Abhorrent human rights violations have forced up to 200,000 North Koreans to attempt to escape through China, and the gender-specific violence has been a factor in the increasingly female migration flow out of North Korea (Korea Future Initiative 2019, 12).

Famine and Changing Roles of Women

Famine put increased stress on women, with many shifting into informal markets to compensate for the collapse of the state and their livelihoods. In the early days of its independence, North Korea promised major advances in gender equality, guaranteeing women’s empowerment and liberation from domestic work. In reality, women faced the double burden of formal employment, restricted to traditionally feminized roles, on top of their existing domestic duties which generally included cooking, housekeeping, and child care (Haggard and Noland 2013, 52). 

Food production and distribution in North Korea were centralized under a strictly regulated system. Collectivized farms produced agricultural outputs and food was distributed to citizens through the Public Distribution System (PDS). In the 1990s, political and economic mismanagement by the state led to a terrible famine in North Korea. The famine was exacerbated by a series of decisions by North Korean officials that prioritized political elites at the expense of the general population. Common estimates place the total number of famine-related fatalities between one million and three million people (Weissman 2011). The famine shattered any illusions of North Korean self-sufficiency. Without the backing of the Soviet Union, North Korea’s institutions, including the PDS, could not support its population. Many North Koreans still live each day with food shortages caused by state negligence and an intentionally unequal distribution of resources. It is not uncommon for young children to suffer chronic malnutrition, and many subsequently die of starvation (Nebehay 2018). In fact, one in five children in North Korea today is stunted as a result of chronic malnutrition (WFP DPR Korea Country Brief 2019). While they were especially salient during and immediately following the famine, food insecurity and hunger are still cited as reasons for leaving North Korea today (Noland and Haggard 2011, 29).

When they could no longer rely on the state for food distribution, farmers created jangmadang, informal markets, that spread across the country (Wilson Center 2002). Despite their illegality, the markets flourished as people sought new ways to feed themselves and their families. The marketization of North Korea was born of necessity to cope with state failures, and only years later were policies changed to accommodate this shift. Women lost their jobs with state-owned enterprises at higher rates than men, because working for the state was considered “men’s work” (Haggard and Nolan 2013, 53). Unemployed women often tried to make money in the emerging market system.

Although the specific goods varied based on the resources available in each region, women often sold used household items, homemade snacks, crops grown in private gardens, and sometimes smuggled goods from other countries. As government resources dwindled and men were less likely to be paid on time or at all, many families came to rely heavily on the income generated by female traders at informal markets. Gender roles shifted and women took on a larger share of financial responsibility. Women had greater freedom of movement and were surveilled less than men because the government viewed them as less of a security threat.

Women, dealing with the harsh reality of an increased economic burden and dwindling food supply, became increasingly likely to consider migration a viable option.

The famine forced a fundamental shift in the socioeconomic structure of the North Korean state. The famine provided the opportunity for women to gain some financial autonomy through market trading, and learn about the wealth and freedom of the world outside of North Korea through access to Western goods. However, the illegality of the informal market system left women vulnerable to abuse and manipulation by the predominantly male authorities (Haggard and Nolan 2013, 51-66). Even after the government loosened restrictions on the markets, they continued to operate in a legal gray area, and market officials continued to harass, intimidate, and demand bribes, which often included sexual abuse of the female traders (Human Rights Watch 2018, 6, 56). Women, dealing with the harsh reality of an increased economic burden and dwindling food supply, became increasingly likely to consider migration a viable option. Although men and women were involved in cross-border trading with China, men continued day trips across the border to China for economic activity, including trade and day laboring, whereas women began leaving without intending to return (Human Rights Watch 2018). As the famine worsened, North Korean women began to leave the country in record numbers.


Challenges During Migration Through China

Trafficking to China

Women comprise the majority of North Korean refugees in China, many of whom are trafficked and sold to rural Chinese farmers (Congressional-Executive Commission on China 2012). Since 1979, China’s one-child policy has driven higher rates of female infanticide and sex-selective abortions, especially in rural areas where families depend on their sons’ labor to sustain their farms. Although the policy ended in 2016, today there are almost 34 million more males than females in China (Denyer and Gowen 2018). Sons of the one-child policy era are coming of age in areas with drastically skewed sex ratios, while rural Chinese women are increasingly migrating to cities in search of economic opportunities (Denyer and Gowen 2018). Bride shortages have strengthened women’s leverage in choosing a husband, and marriage costs have soared for men and their families. Many of the men who fail to find wives—often rural men with limited education and low socio-economic status—are turning to the $100 million dollar market of trafficked North Korean women (Jeong 2019; Hesketh & Xing 2006).

There is a fine and often blurred line between traffickers and marriage brokers. Traffickers target vulnerable women and girls in North Korea and offer safe passage to China, where they promise food, shelter, and work (Central Intelligence Agency 2019). In the process, some women are kidnapped while crossing the border while others, having safely made the journey into China, are sold to traffickers by their employers and forced into marriages. Some women, desperate to escape North Korea, agree to marriages in order to get across the border, but without legal documentation their marriages are not recognized by the Chinese government. Husbands, afraid their new “wives” will flee, sometimes lock the women in their homes. Women have reported labor exploitation, sexual harassment, and assault by their husband or his family (United Nations Human Rights Council 2014, 137). They have no access to medical services, and cannot register their children with the state. The constant threat of repatriation to North Korea exacerbates the vulnerabilities of North Korean women who face language barriers, lack support networks, and cannot report abuse without risking deportation (Muico 2017, 9).

Sixty percent of North Korean female refugees are sold into the sex trade, and most are sold more than once (Korea Future Initiative 2019, 25). According to interviews with trafficking survivors, “victims who are not sold immediately are confined to safe-houses where they can be locked in rooms and subjected to rape and gang-rape—a process referred to by one survivor as ‘training’” (Korea Future Initiative 2019, 28). Of the women sold into the sex trade, roughly 30 percent are sold into forced marriages, 50 percent are sold into prostitution, and 15 percent are sold into cybersex dens (Korea Future Initiative 2019, 5). 

China’s crackdown on undocumented North Koreans in July 2017, coupled with a burgeoning cybersex industry, has led to a growth of cybersex dens. Rather than risk run-ins with Chinese authorities, traffickers lock women and girls as young as nine years old into apartments for years at a time, and live stream their sexual abuse for customers (Choe 2019). Compared to traditional pornography, live stream users can make requests of the trafficking victims in real time. One North Korean woman, who had been imprisoned for two years, described being forced to perform demeaning sexual acts from 12PM to 5AM, seven days a week (Choe 2019). Women and girls who are forced into the cybersex industry are often controlled through drugs and violence. Demand for North Korean cybersex victims is driven by South Korean men searching for Korean-language pornography (Korea Future Initiative 2019, 39; Hwang 2019). 

Violations of International Legal Obligations

China is a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention, but insists that trafficked North Koreans are illegal economic migrants rather than refugees (Robertson 2017). Each year, 6,000 undocumented North Koreans found by Chinese authorities are returned to North Korea (Korea Future Initiative 2019, 23). North Korean officials charge defectors with “treachery against the nation” for having left North Korea without state authorization, and sentence defectors to a minimum of five years in a labor camp (United Nations Human Rights Council 2014, 107-108). 

North Korea - China friendship
Image by Roman Harak, CC BY-SA 2.0 license.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), “People who leave their own country for non-refugee related reasons may nevertheless acquire a well-founded fear of persecution in their own country following their departure,” thus becoming refugees sur place. North Koreans who escape to another country fit this definition, and therefore have the right to certain protections under international law, including non-refoulement (United Nations Human Rights Council 2014, 99). China and North Korea fail to uphold legal obligations and protect human rights. The two countries have a close relationship as trading partners and political allies (Perlez and Yufan 2017). Both see benefits in cooperating on the repatriation of North Korean refugees and continue the practice in exchange for economic partnership and regional security assurances. 

Detention in North Korea

Repatriated defectors are first sent to state security centers to be interrogated, sometimes for several weeks. They are verbally abused while they are stripped and subjected to invasive body searches in front of other prisoners (United Nations Human Rights Council 2014, 337). The defectors are given little to eat and are severely beaten and tortured. Those who have defected several times, who are pregnant, or who married Chinese men, are treated even more harshly and are sometimes executed (Muico 2017, 9).

The defectors then move to short-term detention centers or labor camps, which are characterized by endemic violence and sexual abuse by guards. They are beaten, stripped, and interrogated again. Guards refer to those imprisoned as “dogs” and “pigs” (Muico 2017, 10). Living conditions are dismal, food is made with rotten vegetables, and sleeping quarters are ridden with lice and bed bugs. According to accounts from defectors, prisoners are forced to perform strenuous physical labor from 5AM to 8PM while guards throw stones at them. There are no work exceptions for the sick, elderly, or pregnant (Muico 2017, 10).

Forced Abortions and Infanticide

North Korean officials view pregnant repatriated women as a threat to racial purity (United Nations Human Rights Council 2014, 122). The guards systematically torture these women, administer forced abortions, and kill infants with the assumption that the pregnancies were fathered by Chinese men (United Nations Human Rights Council 2014, 336). Pregnant women are forced to run around the labor camp and are beaten, including kicks to their stomachs to induce miscarriages (Muico 2017, 11). Abortions are carried out without anesthesia, either by inserting chemicals or abortifacient herbs into a woman’s vagina, by injection, or else the fetus is extracted and dismembered. Survivors reported the use of rusty, tong-like devices, as well as the forced participation of other female prisoners in the process. If a pregnancy is carried to term, the woman gives birth without medical care. The newborn is immediately suffocated, drowned, or abandoned. Several survivors were forced to kill their own newborns (United Nations Human Rights Council 2014, 125). The systemic abuse and torture of repatriated women in North Korean detention is a direct result of China’s decision to return defectors to North Korea, in violation of its obligations under international law.

Cycles of Escape and Repatriation

It is common for women and girls to fall into a cycle of escape and repatriation. After refugees are released, they often escape to China again (Noland and Haggard 2011, 35). North Korean refugees who are able to safely leave China usually head for the nearest South Korean embassy, often in neighboring countries such as Mongolia or Thailand. There, they begin resettlement processing, with the ultimate goal of safe passage to South Korea (Kang 2013, 4-17).


Resettlement in South Korea

Legal Obligations

South Korea considers North Korean defectors automatically South Korean citizens with full rights. According to Article 3 of the South Korean Constitution, “The territory of the Republic of Korea (South Korea) shall consist of the Korean peninsula and its adjacent islands.” This definition expresses the view of a unified Korea, and therefore North Korean people are citizens under South Korean law (Bell 2009). 

Challenges of Resettlement

Upon arrival in South Korea, North Koreans begin a government-funded resettlement program (Kang 2013, 4-17). South Korea provides resettled North Koreans with housing and crash courses covering daily life in South Korea, including how to ride the bus and use a credit card (Lee, Ahlam 2016, 54). However, these programs focus on making new arrivals functional national citizens, rather than cultural citizens, and many North Korean refugees struggle with cultural integration. The Korean language has diverged since the division of the Korean peninsula. South Koreans incorporate numerous loanwords from English as a result of globalization, and rely on more Chinese characters and words (Lee 2016, 743-753). The two dialects are so different that some North Koreans find it difficult to communicate when they resettle (Marino 2015). North Koreans also struggle with the transition from communism into South Korea’s capitalist society. They report struggling with South Korea’s competitive job market and education, especially as the North Korean education system was interrupted by the famine in the 1990s (Chung 2008, 13-20). 

The vast majority of North Korean refugees in South Korea are women (South Korean Ministry of Unification 2020). North Korean women in South Korea face unique challenges. Due to the cultural difference in beauty standards, they feel further isolated as a result of the relative importance of appearance in South Korea (Chung 2008, 18). North Korean women experience culture shock, and have trouble fitting in due to the sudden change from state-dictated rules on hair, makeup, and clothing styles to the freedom of expression found in South Korea (Jo and Ha 2018, 6). In addition, North Koreans’ height on average is much shorter than that of South Koreans. Some young North Korean refugees living in South Korea exercise and take supplements in an effort to “restimulate their stunted growth,” and blend into a society that emphasizes outward beauty (Chung 2008, 18). 

Further exacerbating the struggles of North Korean refugees in South Korea, the official state ideology of North Korea, juche, is built on principles of self-reliance. 

Further exacerbating the struggles of North Korean refugees in South Korea, the official state ideology of North Korea, juche, is built on principles of self-reliance (Buswell 2007, 517-533). This ideology is paramount to North Korean culture and identity, and thus refugees struggle with adapting their way of thinking to South Korean society. As a result, North Korean women in South Korea find it shameful to ask for help, and difficult to reach out to the South Korean government for assistance with problems like domestic violence, unemployment, and difficulty accessing food. North Korean women have additional difficulties creating social networks and support systems in South Korea, where reluctance to accept North Korean immigrants has been increasing (Jung, et al. 2017, 294-297).

Symptoms of depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are high among all North Korean refugees resettled in South Korea. Female refugees are more vulnerable to factors that negatively affect their mental health status, and show higher levels of depression, anxiety, and PTSD than their male counterparts (Shin and Lee 2015, 416-418). Even after three years of settlement in South Korea, PTSD symptoms may continue in female North Korean refugees (Shin and Lee 2015, 418). North Korean refugees suffering from PTSD are hindered from emotionally settling into South Korean society, which leads to social isolation, and is further complicated by the stress of language barriers, limited economic opportunity, and sociocultural differences (Ryu and Park 2018, 10). Isolation, stress, and tolerant attitudes towards violence are all correlated with higher rates of intimate partner violence. One study found that female North Korean refugees experience twice the rate of physical and emotional abuse, three times the rate of sexual abuse, and four times the rate of economic abuse compared to South Korean women (Um et al. 2016, 2051).

Even though South Korea keeps careful watch over North Korean refugees for the first five years, it is not always enough to ensure successful integration into South Korean society (Choe 2019). When a North Korean refugee and her young son died—apparently due to starvation—in Seoul in the summer of 2019, it prompted a closer look at refugee resettlement and integration programs. Heo Kwang-il, the leader of a North Korean defectors’ organization said of the situation, “She escaped a famine in North Korea—only to starve to death in the heart of South Korea, where there is so much food that going on a diet is its biggest fad” (Choe 2019).

Additionally, South Korean president Moon Jae-in has recently focused on a return to the “Sunshine Policy,” which emphasizes collaboration and cooperation between the two Koreas for economic and social benefit. This intentionally diverts public attention from struggles faced by North Korean refugees, even though this policy has proven to have little to no effect on the inter-Korean relationship (Lee, Ahlam 2016, 11-15). When the difficulties experienced by the recently resettled population are not addressed publicly, they continue to worsen, and female North Korean refugees disproportionately bear the brunt of the government’s decision.



From birth in North Korea, to the dangerous journey across the border, to eventual settlement in South Korea, women and girls face additional challenges on the basis of gender. Lack of international cooperation and political will to holistically address the needs of female refugees pose major feasibility challenges to improving their situation. Despite these limitations, the situation is not hopeless. Action must be taken to mitigate the harmful effects of the systematic oppression and abuse of women and girls.

  • Improve the Resettlement and Reintegration Process

Although South Korea already has a robust refugee resettlement program, there is room for improvement. Early in the resettlement process, female refugees from North Korea should receive information about their rights, available resources, and how to report abuse. Female refugees sometimes have difficulty understanding the rights to which they are entitled and how to seek justice if those rights are violated. South Korea’s government should be very intentional and clear about communicating pertinent information about rights in ways that are accessible and easy to understand. Resettlement centers should also place a greater emphasis on mental health care for recently arrived North Korean refugees. There are professional counselors working at resettlement centers, but they are often busy with other tasks that detract from the provision of effective mental health care (Yang 2018).

  • Bring South Korean Penalties for Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Imagery up to International Standards

South Korean men are a major consumer of Korean-language pornography. The lucrative Korean-language cybersex industry drives trafficking and live streamed sexual abuse of North Korean women and girls as young as nine years old. Penalties for possessing child sexual abuse imagery in South Korea fall well below international standards and should be raised immediately to disincentivize abuse (Jeong 2019). Live streaming is an emerging method of online sexual abuse and is generally underregulated compared to traditionally recorded pornography. The South Korean government should develop robust regulations on possession of child sexual abuse imagery, and on South Korean websites that facilitate and advertise sexual abuse of North Korean children. Furthermore, courts currently base their decisions on often lenient previous rulings (Jeong 2019). Judges need to be equipped with clear sentencing guidelines so that laws pertaining to child sexual abuse may be meaningfully enforced.

  • Collection of Sex and Age Disaggregated Data

The collection of Sex and Age Disaggregated Data (SADD) will help provide a more complete view of the role of gender in migration. South Korea already collects disaggregated data on North Korean arrivals, but this data would be very helpful for understanding the motivations and experiences of North Koreans crossing into China. To enable collection of SADD, UNHCR should continue its efforts to gain access to refugees in China. This is in accordance with a 1995 agreement between the United Nations and China which affirmed China’s agreement to UNHCR providing humanitarian assistance and protection for refugees within China (UNHCR and China, 61-71). The collection of SADD would enable policy makers and humanitarian actors to better target interventions based on the specific needs of the most vulnerable populations. Any future research should be done with a focus on specific age and gender dynamics.

  • Provide More Resources and Support to Organizations Helping North Korean Refugees in China

The South Korean government and the international community are hesitant about taking on the work of protecting North Korean refugees in China, leaving the work to small rescue organizations and missionaries (Korea Future Initiative 2019, 8). Although the mandates vary by organization, some functions they perform include identification of North Korean refugees in China, facilitation of safe passage to South Korea or a South Korean embassy, and help for trafficking victims to escape harmful situations. These organizations operate in a dangerous setting where they are subject to reprisal from China and North Korea. NGOs and governments trying to help North Korean refugees can support these organizations by providing resources, funding, and information that will enable them to help more refugees and act more effectively. 

  • Encourage China to Comply with Obligations Under International Law

The United Nations, NGOs, and other countries should do more to urge China to comply with its obligations under international law, specifically with regard to the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, the 1967 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees, the Convention Against Torture, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the optional protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography. UNHCR should continue to push for humanitarian access and publicly acknowledge North Koreans as refugees sur place.

Framing its obligations as opportunities for China to demonstrate international leadership may be a promising approach, particularly given China’s efforts to fill the void left by U.S. retrenchment in international affairs. At a time when the West has turned against its own international refugee obligations, better treatment of North Korean refugees would help China bolster its reputation. 



The Kim regime in North Korea commits atrocities against its own people, and North Korean women suffer a disproportionate share of the harm. Escaped North Korean women bear the scars of trafficking, sexual violence, torture, and imprisonment. The physical, emotional, and psychological damage they have endured lasts a lifetime, and survivors do not receive adequate care. The prioritization of economic and security concerns over human rights in discussions with North Korea will only serve to perpetuate ongoing abuses (Haas and Hurst 2018). Solving the urgent problems facing North Korean refugee women in South Korea and China will require action contrary to the South Korean government’s current focus on inter-Korean dialogue, but is nonetheless necessary to protect this vulnerable population. Addressing the harm done to North Korean refugee women and girls will be a long and challenging process, but more must be done to improve the situation for those fleeing an oppressive regime in pursuit of basic human rights. Although North Korea is a difficult case to research due to a lack of access and information for international actors, it is imperative that research on North Korean society and refugees continue with an emphasis on its gendered dimensions.

About the Authors

Erin Engstran is a Master's candidate at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University where she studies issues related to humanitarian affairs and gender. She can be reached at [email protected]

Caitlin Flynn is a Master's candidate at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University where she focuses on issues related to gender and human security. She can be reached at [email protected]

Meg Harris is a Master's candidate at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. Her studies at Fletcher focus primarily on international communication and public diplomacy, as well as Pacific Asia. She can be reached at [email protected]


1.  Non-refoulement is a widely accepted, but often unenforced, international legal principle that forbids countries from deporting asylum seekers who are at risk of persecution or other dangers in their place of origin.


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