Some Growing Options For Level-headed Solutions
"They have to be washed every night when out of men's sight, so women get up early and wash them." And having just returned from a field visit where she spoke to several female soldiers, Morillot confirms that they often do miss their periods. "One of the girls I spoke with, who was 20, told me she trained so much that she had skipped her periods for two years," she says. Though Lee So Yeon joined the army voluntarily, in 2015 it was announced that all women in North Korea must do seven years' military service from the age of 18. At the same time North Korea's government took the unusual step of saying it would distribute a premium female sanitary brand called Daedong in most female units. "This may have been a way to atone for conditions of the past," says Jieun Baek. "That statement may have been to overcorrect for this well-known phenomenon that conditions for women used to be bad. It may have been a way to boost morale and get more women to think, 'Wow, we will be taken care of.'" A premium cosmetic brand Pyongyang Products was also recently distributed to several female aviation units, following a call by Kim Jong-un in 2016 for North Korean beauty products to compete with global brands like Lancome, Chanel and Christian Dior. Despite this, female soldiers stationed in the countryside don't always have access to private toilets, with some telling Morillot they often have to relieve themselves in front of men, making them feel especially vulnerable. Sexual harassment, say both Baek and Morillot, is rife. Morillot says that when she broached the subject of rape in the army with serving female soldiers, "most women said it happens to others".
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