A high population density may, in some instances, lead to inconveniences. Some of these inconveniences, like traffic and crowded sidewalks, are frustrating while others, such as a lack of resources, may be dangerous. Ethologist John B. Calhoun studied the effects of increased population density on the behavior of mice and concluded his studies with the theory of the behavioral sink. The theory is still largely contested and influences studies of human behavior, and this article will seek to answer the questions: what is a behavioral sink and how valid is the theory?

The Experiment

At the start of the study, Calhoun crafted a utopia where the mice could thrive in a secluded space and reproduce without a fear of predators or a lack of resources.

The mice utopia quickly spiraled into chaos once overcrowding commenced. In the worst instances of overpopulation, pregnant female mice experienced a higher number of miscarriages and mothers were losing track of their children. Other mice resorted to fighting when in direct contact with other mice for prolonged periods.

The strange actions of the group of mice are assumedly correlated with the heightened population; this relationship is then referred to as “behavioral sinks.” Calhoun reported the results of his mice experiment in the 1962 issue of Scientific American, and the concept of the behavioral sink soon garnered the attention of the public.

The Controversies

The work eventually proved controversial for a few reasons: first, the behavior of mice cannot be used independently to understand the behavior of humans; second, when scientists tried to study the behavioral sink theory in humans, they had to decide which human behaviors they would consider similar to the unusual behavior of the mice. For instance, some mice exhibited different sexual behaviors ranging from asexuality to bisexuality; and third, in order to detect this behavior in human beings, some researchers used STDs and illegitimacy as equivalents, an obviously offensive comparison.

The other controversy involved further experiments that proved the theory of behavioral sink did not hold up in human populations. Psychologist Jonathan Freedman conducted a similar, but significantly more humane, experiment with students to observe their behavior in situations of overcrowding in which he found no negative effects of overcrowding, but instead of over-socialization.

The Results

“Rats may suffer from crowding; human beings can cope,” stated Freedman in regards to Calhoun’s findings.

The theory played on the anxieties of those who disliked crowded areas, which were often people of low-income. Many felt that there was not only a higher rate of general crime  in the low-income areas, but that there was also a higher chance that a crime would be committed against them. These classist conclusions led some to ask: what are the positive contributions of the behavioral sink theory?

Calhoun began to explore the importance of “spiritual space” as well as physical space, a concept that aligned pretty directly with Freedman’s theory of coping strategies. Calhoun cited creativity and art as giving people the ability to create distance between others in order to cope with overcrowding. This concept of stress related to over-socialization was a part of Calhoun’s experiments that positively influenced thought and research well after the 1970s.

– Danielle Poindexter

Photo: Flickr

Sao Tome and Principe is a very small country comprised of two islands situated off the coast of Africa in the Gulf of Guinea. The nation is one of the poorest African countries with half its population living on less than two dollars a day.

The country acquired its independence from Portugal in 1975, enacted democratic reforms in 1980 and currently has no institutions for higher education; as a result of this environment, women’s empowerment in Sao Tome and Principe took a back seat.

Women in Sao Tome and Principe

Constitutionally, women in Sao Tome and Principe have equal rights in politics, education, business and government positions; but in reality, gender inequality is prominent throughout the nation. Domestic violence and abuse against women is widespread, but since the society is extremely traditional, women are not very vocal about the injustices committed against them.

In June 2003, Sao Tome and Principe gave formal consent to the convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), and in February 2010, it also signed the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (The Maputo Protocol). Despite these supposed moves in the right direction, the nation’s government has failed to comply with the details of the protocols.

However, organizations such as The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have taken innovative steps in women’s empowerment in Sao Tome and Principe by engaging women effort in the preservation of bio-diversity. In addition, women have also taken a distinct position in the fish trade of the country.

Empowering Women through Biodiversity

In the district of Lobata, turtle egg collection, turtle meat consumption, turtle shell trading and cutting trees for firewood are all part of the illegal practices that negatively impact Sao Tome and Principe’s biodiversity.

In 2009, the Ministry of Education (under the supervision of Madam Helena Bonfim) engaged women in this region to help in turtle, bird and forest preservation. Three hundred women aged between 15 and 36 were divided in 12 different groups and organized to learn about turtle conservation and other environmental aspects.

UNESCO, along with non-profit government organizations, took the initiative of educating women in this region; in fact, the organization helped the women acquire skills in food processing and other fields like fashion, design and environmental protection.

Empowering Women through Fish Trading

Almost 17 percent of the total population of Sao Tome and Principe is involved in the fish business where women play a unique role — they are involved in many of the main acts of fishing such as:

  • Unloading the boat
  • Buying fish directly from fishermen
  • Transporting to the market and selling them
  • Processing them into dried and salted fish

Fish saleswomen are known as “palayes” in the local language; palayes make up an extremely powerful group of the population, and some of them are even important members of the fisherman association.

The members of the palayes association try to reduce cost of the enterprise by sharing fish-drying sheds and buying salts in bulk for fish processing. Some of the successful palayes even lend money to the fisherman for buying fishing accessories.

Other Business Prospects

The women of Sao Tome also generate income through:

  • Piggery and poultry farming
  • Selling eggs, chicken and bartering surplus meat
  • Growing banana and indigenous crops

Despite high levels of poverty, illiteracy and gender inequality, women’s empowerment in Sao Tome and Principe is taking progressive steps. The Ministry of Education and organizations like UNESCO are making every effort to support and motivate this extremely important cause of women’s empowerment in Sao Tome and Principe.

– Mahua Mitra

Photo: Flickr

Beginning in the late 1980s with resistance to the military government, armed conflict and social disorganization have marked the lives of nearly two generations of Somalis. Because of the ongoing conflict, thousands of Somalis left their homeland due to the fighting and settled in expatriate communities around the globe. In recent years, however, a fragile stability has returned that sees locals and returnees rebuilding Somalia together.

While this remains good news, the return of Somali nationals who were raised or spent upwards of two decades abroad has generated new conflicts. Local Somalis often have a perception that they are entitled to more rights in their native land than those who have spent their lives abroad. Returning nationals often feel that their education and experience position them better to contribute to future peace and stability for Somalia. These preconceptions fuel disagreements regarding prime positions in government and other employment conflicts.

There is a significant culture gap between returnees and local Somalis, but efforts have begun recently to bridge this gap in the name of improving their war-torn country. A symposium was held in June 2017 to bring these groups together and foster an ongoing dialogue about incorporating all Somalis in the nation’s future. These new efforts hope to see locals and returnees rebuilding Somalia together.

One local participant explained, “It was an important workshop in that it brought together diaspora returnees and the locals. The engagements were amicable as the diaspora returnees and their local counterparts held discussions so as to get to understand each other.”

Returnees are a big part of rebuilding Somalia. One United Nations program in recent years has arranged for dozens of short-term positions in Somalia for expatriates with expert qualifications. Some returnees are keenly conscious of the problems incurred by bringing in outsiders. One American returnee who hosted a legal summit with Somali experts and politicians in 2015 was proud to have completed the project with a minimum of international interference.

Vocational and education programs that support returnees are opening opportunities for Somalis no matter their personal history. The U.N. High Commission for Refugees reported in December 2017 on a program in Mogadishu that is providing training through the country’s Returnee Support Center. Their training programs are increasing the quality of life in the Somali capital for both returning nationals and those who stayed through the wars.

Regional organizations are supporting efforts to integrate the diverse Somali population as well. AMISOM, the African Union Mission in Somalia, is participating in the talks to unite local and returning populations, and has endorsed their continuing work.

“One of the reasons AMISOM is supporting this great initiative is because cooperation and partnership between Somali Diaspora Returnees and Homeland community is critical for the stability and long-term development of Somalia,” said Dr. Walters Samah, AMISOM Political Officer to ReliefWeb.

Despite the fragility of the current situation, Somalia’s prospects have been improving for years. With luck and dedication, this trajectory will continue with locals and returnees rebuilding Somalia together for a better future.

– Paul Robertson

Photo: Flickr

How Gender Inequality Hurts Countries
From religion to social norms, there are many different reasons why gender inequality and the suppression of women’s voices occurs in various communities; however, none of these reasons account for how gender inequality hurts countries financially, socially and politically.

According to the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report, the gender gap in countries across the world has risen to 32 percent — a figure up one percent from last year’s 31 percent. This trend means that the average economic gap between women and men, whether in personal finances or in political representation and commerce, generally results in a substantial difference in the amount of money and support women receive in their communities.

Women in Yemen

For instance, Yemen was ranked the worst country for gender equality since 2006, not only because it’s economic stability is practically nonexistent, but also because they possess significant education issues. Yemen has an overall literacy rate of 96 percent among males, however their female literacy rate of 76 percent leaves a gap that causes a good portion of the female disenfranchisement in the region.

For these women, the lack of educational sustainability is one of the biggest inhibitors of their economic success. It’s evident how gender inequality hurts countries such as Yemen because without academic access and the capability to further learning, women are extremely inhibited in their opportunities for economic independence.

Women and Education

According to a study published by Frontiers in Psychology Journal, women in academic situations have a higher chance of success than men do. When put in learning groups, girls tended to be more capable of task-accomplishing, self-regulation and focusing by deciding on a goal and completing it. Males, on the other hand, tended to focus on avoidance activities in order to make the task seem less daunting.

The female’s method is much more successful in most academic and work-related situations, and is a strong indicator of a woman’s capability in educational settings and the workplace; however, in countries such as Yemen where the academic retention rate is much lower for females, the opportunity to demonstrate these self-regulation skills becomes short-changed when a woman drops out of education. 

Social Norms

The reason for dropout rates, and another example of how gender inequality hurts countries in Yemen, refers mainly to the social norms placed on women by their community: most women are expected to be educated enough to read and write, and once this criteria is met, they are taken back to their home to prepare for the household duties that will serve as their main vocation upon marriage and for the rest of their lives. An article published by the World Bank states that even one more year of schooling could benefit a woman’s health, safety and decrease the amount of child marriages in countries across the world.

For places like Yemen, which tend to lean heavily on societal norms to dictate their country’s success, gender inequality hurts the country’s economic stability, limits growth for communities and families and causes women to be more likely to be subjugated to child marriages, dangerously young pregnancies and a more rapid spread of STIs such as HIV/AIDS. Not only does this display exactly how gender inequality hurts countries, it also shows how gender inequality hurts the women who lack financial and social freedoms. 

The process made thus far incites hope that countries’ across the globe will continue to work on solutions to stop gender inequality, once and for all.

– Molly Atchison

Photo: Flickr

female education in lesotho
The gender gap favoring males in education is largest in low-income countries. But in Lesotho, a small, poor, landlocked country surrounded by South Africa, the gender gap in education favors females. The ratio of female-to-male enrollment rates in secondary education is the highest in the world, with 1.6 females enrolled for every male.

“This is really, really unusual in the developing world,” says Theresa Ulicki, a professor of Gender and Development Studies at Dalhousie University.

Female education in Lesotho is a result of male outmigration to South Africa, which was triggered by high unemployment and poverty. In the late 20th century, over half of the Basotho male population emigrated to South Africa for better wage-earning opportunities. Because cross-border migration to South Africa was almost exclusively male — with most Basotho males staying in South Africa from adolescence to retirement — women outnumbered men in the general population by a ratio of four-to-one.

Employment rates of Basotho men in South Africa have since declined, but the same norms govern gender differences in education and labor force participation. Most males of primary school age are involved in cattle-herding— a practice that requires young boys to withdraw from school and tend cattle for their families — and many male adolescents withdraw from school to find employment in South Africa.

Equal access to education and employment does not necessarily result in gender equality. In Lesotho, the gender gap in education is in some sense evidence of the lower perceived value of women. Women’s literacy rates and other levels of education are higher than those for men, yet most Basotho women work jobs that have lower status and pay.

Other indications of gender inequality in Lesotho include gender‐based violence and related developmental problems. Gender-based violence is a serious problem in Lesotho, where females are marginalized, making them susceptible to HIV/AIDS, abuse and rape. In 2011, the rate of sexual assault in Lesotho was among the highest in the world, with 88.6 rape cases per 100,000 female inhabitants. In 2016, Lesotho had one of the highest numbers of new HIV infections worldwide. Illegal marriages are also prevalent, with 19 percent of Basotho females under age 18 being forced into illegal marriages, often with older men.

Education is a central element in economic development and social progress. However, female education in Lesotho shows that ensuring equal access to education is an important but insufficient step toward social development.

– Gabrielle Doran

Photo: Flickr

10 Fascinating Facts About the Women's Suffrage MovementThe women’s suffrage movement was an essential emphasis of the women’s rights movement. At Seneca Falls, New York, the first women’s rights conference was organized in 1848. These 10 fascinating facts about the women’s suffrage movement illuminate the battle for equal rights that continues to be fought today.

  1. Saudi Arabia gave women the right to vote in 2015, leaving Vatican City as the only place where women’s suffrage is still denied today.
  2. Women did not have the right to vote in the early democracies of Greece and the Roman Republic.
  3. The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving women the right to vote in America, was first proposed and rejected in 1878, then reintroduced every year for the next 41 years. In 1984, Mississippi became the last state to ratify it.
  4. The U.N. first explicitly named women’s suffrage as a human right in 1979.
  5. The women’s suffrage movement sprung from the abolition movement.
  6. In 1893, New Zealand became the first self-governing nation to give women a lasting right to vote. It did not, however, give women the right to hold office in Parliament. The Corsican Republic actually gave women the right to vote much earlier, in 1755, but this right was curtailed after the nation was colonized by France.
  7. Finland became the first European country to give women the right to vote, in 1906. Women had previously been allowed to vote there under both Swedish and Russian rule. Finland was also the first country to allow women to take office in Parliament.
  8. Wyoming was the first U.S. state to give women the right to vote. Women there had been voting since 1869 in Wyoming Territory, which only agreed to join the Union if this right was maintained. Congress threatened to deny statehood over the issue, but Wyoming wouldn’t back down.
  9. The original 1776 constitution of New Jersey gave “all inhabitants” who were “worth 50 pounds” the right to vote. This was vague, so in 1797, women with 50 pounds or more to their names were explicitly allowed to vote. This right only applied to single women. Married women did not count since their husbands legally controlled all the property they owned. In 1807, the law was changed once again, restricting the vote to only free white male citizens.
  10. Not all suffragists were women, and not all anti-suffragists were men. Numerous men were committed suffragists, and some were imprisoned and force-fed just like their female comrades. Many prominent women also proclaimed disapproval for the suffrage movement, arguing that women did not want to vote and that it would mean competition with men rather than cooperation.

Great strides have been made in the fight for equal rights, as evidenced by these 10 fascinating facts about the women’s suffrage movement. Women persevered and endured great hardships to ensure the granting of rights that many today take for granted. In the words of Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

– Anna Parker

Photo: Flickr

credit access in RwandaRwanda has seen great improvement in political and economic areas since the 1994 genocide and civil war. Credit access in Rwanda has made a considerable leap in the landlocked country.

lack of credit access is a challenge in developing countries, as access to credit is an important tool to help people to manage their lives and plan ahead. Developing financial literacy is essential for people to make proper financial decisions. Limited access to credit also impedes growth and innovation. When Rwandans see their potential with credit access, they can not only improve their living conditions but also boost the untapped economy and market towards economic sustainability.

Credit access in Rwanda is expanding, and entrepreneurs have found it useful in growing their startups. The biggest improvement in access to credit is protecting minority investors with reforms that have grown Rwanda’s economy. Investing in people with ideas and innovation opens doors in the global market, moving Rwanda up the economic ladder and away from poverty and instability.

According to African Markets, Rwanda leads all African nations in ease of credit access. Rwanda has been proposing and establishing reforms in order to promote and simplify access to credit during the past seven years. Credit access in Rwanda is making waves with investors and potential businesses, and the progress will benefit Rwandans and improve their living conditions.

Partly due to improved credit access in Rwanda, the country has become a progressive example for African nations. Post-genocide Rwanda has witnessed substantial progress, prospering in innovation and stability. Starting a business is relatively easy in Rwanda and faces little to no barriers.

The gender gap is decreasing in Rwanda, another benefit of the improvements being made in the country. Credit access in Rwanda is readily available to women, though they still face some obstacles. To address this issue, the Women Guarantee Fund (WGF) ensures women have access to credit in Rwanda. WGF intends to financially support women who plan to establish income-generating businesses. WGF has also assisted Rwandan women in entrepreneurship training. Combined with credit access, women and all Rwandans will see prosperity in their lives and in the country.

Access to credit has played a crucial role in Rwanda’s economic prosperity and sustainability. With innovation and financial potential, Rwanda will continue to rise to the top and support its citizens’ developmental endeavors.

– Jennifer Serrato

Photo: Flickr

When a developing country is in crisis or conflict, education is an area that suffers immensely. Education is a transitional platform that propels students in developing nations out of the cycle of poverty if implemented consistently. However, the relationship between education and conflict is negatively correlated: though education helps prevent conflict and crisis, once conflict and crises arise, education suffers.

Today, one in six children ages three to 15 are directly affected when a country experiences conflict and crisis. This number in itself explains why education matters, especially for these primary and secondary school-aged children.

According to the U.N.’s tracking of Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), “in countries affected by conflict, the proportion of out-of-school children increased from 30 percent in 1999 to 36 percent in 2012.” In 2015, in succession to the MDGs, the U.N. established the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The new SDGs pledge to “ensure inclusive and quality education for all.” This objective exemplifies the international importance of the universal human right to education.

So, if all people have the right to education, why are children in conflict left out?

The World Economic Forum found a recent OECD report that details why education matters economically. According to the report, “providing every child with access to education and the skills needed to participate fully in society would boost GDP by an average 28 percent per year in lower-income countries.” Conflict and crises have an expensive effect on the economy of the affected country. From 2011 to 2016, for example, the war in Syria exacerbated cumulative losses of $226 billion to the country’s GDP. The correlation between conflict and the economy is buffered when access to education persists. 

The World Economic Forum points out that there are 37 million out-of-school children and youth in countries affected by conflict and crisis. This translates to about 33 percent of out-of-school students across the globe. The Global Partnership for Education (GPE) estimates that it will only cost $74 annually to educate each child affected by conflict and crisis. If these students remained in school during times of crisis, the economic consequences, like in Syria, might not be so drastic. 

An infographic published by the GPE looks at the relationship between education and conflict or crisis. When a conflict or protracted crisis arises, no matter what the cause, schools are commonly destroyed or used for strategic purposes. In Yemen, BBC reports, “more than 1,700 schools are currently unfit for use due to conflict-related damage, the hosting of displaced people or occupation by armed groups.” During violence and rebellion, children and teachers are targeted and forced to flee. Education suffers immensely as a result of conflict and crisis and is difficult to reestablish. 

The GPE infographic contrasts the detrimental effects of conflict and crisis to education with the promising relief education can bring in these situations. For each year of education, the risk of conflict reduces by 20 percent. And, if the average secondary school enrollment rate increases by only 10 percent, the risk of war will reduce by three percent.

Education not only reduces the risk of conflict and crisis, it provides opportunities for citizens to stimulate the economy and support democratic processes. The GPE further points out that, “across 18 Sub-Saharan African countries, people with a primary school education are 1.5 times more likely to support democratic processes.”

When nations experience tension like conflict or protracted crisis, education empirically suffers. However, if education can become a developmental focus, as in the U.N. SDGs plan, the risk of conflict and crisis in developing countries can correspondingly decrease. From encouraging future growth to maintaining socioeconomic homeostasis, it is easy to see why education matters, especially in times of crises and conflict.

– Eliza Gresh

Photo: Flickr

 BrazilBy hosting both the Football World Cup and the Summer Olympic Games in recent years, Brazil put the focus of the world’s attention firmly upon itself. In the resulting spotlight, many Brazilian citizens took the unique opportunity to voice concerns to the Brazilian government, with the wider world audience looking on. Protests and reform movements abounded in the past decade as a rapidly widening middle class made unprecedented demands in Brazil’s increasingly mobile and globally integrated society.

Among these movements, students and teachers in Brazil banded together to protest deficiencies in an education system that has long underserved Brazil’s citizens. In 2016, protestors occupied hundreds of schools nationwide to bring attention to the country’s needs.

In response to the protests and upheavals of the past few years, governments at every level in Brazil are beginning initiatives to address educational shortfalls. In many areas, education reforms in Brazil look familiar to readers from the United States. Ideas like performance pay for teachers and turning school management over to private charter organizations are spreading throughout the country at a rapid rate.

Application of the new American-inspired techniques is inconsistent however, and most education reforms in Brazil are still too new to evaluate effectively. In particular, schools in large urban centers are innovating at a faster rate than systems in less developed areas of the country. Regardless, enthusiasm is high. Many of the movements are being fueled by the personal initiative of teachers, who are in some ways pulling their more conservative institutions forward with them.

Technology in Brazilian schools shows a similarly inconsistent yet hopeful picture. Schools in Rio de Janeiro, for example, are leaders in educational technology use in South America. In Sao Paulo, South America’s largest city, one nonprofit foundation leads an initiative to translate and implement the Khan Academy materials for use in Brazilian schools. This popular online curriculum and method now features in hundreds of Brazilian schools reaching over 70,000 students.

In addition to the visible presence of the popular video-based curriculum, officials at the Lemann Foundation are even more excited about the potential for the support material and quality measurement features of the Khan Academy method. They see these “back end” features as creating real lasting value for future advances in Brazil’s schools.

Still, regions outside of the country’s largest cities have not progressed as quickly. Internet speeds to schools in Brazil are one unexpected challenge. While Brazil is a world leader in mobile internet infrastructure, most connections to schools do not reach the 2Mbps threshold considered ideal for the delivery of online materials. Fortunately, one potential solution to this challenge is on the way. KALite, a compressed, offline version of the Khan Academy materials, is now being implemented in areas with less robust infrastructure.

Some of these tech-heavy initiatives are showing early signs of success. Brazilian students using these self-paced, interactive tools are more likely to show up to class, and anecdotal reports indicate a higher level of morale and enthusiasm as well.

Brazil instituted compulsory primary education in the 1980s, after the end of military rule. In many ways, that change was impressively successful. Literacy rates, for example, are far higher today than in the latter half of the 20th century, and enrollment has strongly improved. Still, educational attainment lags behind nations at a similar stage of development. Brazil’s education system is ranked 105th in quality out of 122 nations by the World Economic Forum.

As time passes, results from more structural changes will be seen as well, and time will tell whether the legacy of these education reforms in Brazil will garner the same attention as the sporting events that precipitated their beginning.

– Paul Robertson

Photo: Flickr

North Korea
Currently ruled by Kim Jong-Un and the Worker’s Party of Korea, North Korea is one of the most oppressive countries in the world. Its leaders and government are adamant about isolating the country to ensure loyalty to North Korea and its communist way of life. In order to do this, many human rights are stripped from individuals living there. Although it is difficult to understand everything about the country given the secrecy and protection that is enforced, there are certain things about human rights in North Korea that have been uncovered.


Top 10 Facts About Human Rights in North Korea.

  1. Unauthorized access to media is prohibited, such as non-state radio, newspapers or unapproved TV broadcasts. North Koreans face severe punishments if they are found accessing such material.
  2. A large majority of North Koreans are forced to participate in unpaid labor at some point in their lives. The government does this to maintain control of its people as well as sustain the economy. In 2014, a former teacher from North Korea escaped and told officials that his school forced students, aging from 10 to 16, to work every day to produce funds to uphold the school, make a profit and pay government officials.
  3. Citizens of North Korea are divided into three classes based on their loyalty to their “Dear Leader.” The highest class is “core,” followed by “wavering” and ending with “hostile.” The “core” is filled with the most dedicated citizens, whereas the “hostile” contains members of minority faiths, in addition to descendants of alleged enemies of the state. The majority of the wealth resides among the “core,” while the “hostile” group is often denied employment and is even subjected to starvation.
  4. Citizens of North Korea are often forced to spy on one another, including family members, and they must report any disloyalty they find. The government enforces this through what is called the Ministry of People’s Security. If someone is heard being at all critical toward the government, they will likely be reduced to a lower loyalty group rating, and could be tortured, imprisoned in a concentration camp or possibly even executed.
  5. Traveling is heavily restricted in North Korea. Citizens caught trying to flee or travel outside of the country may be given the death penalty.
  6. Except among the ruling class, malnutrition is almost universal because of the restrictions on the lower class. The average seven-year-old in North Korea is about eight inches shorter than the average seven-year-old in South Korea.
  7. North Korea has 10 active concentration camps that people can be placed into at any time for any crime deemed severe enough. It is believed that between 200,000 to 250,000 prisoners currently reside within them. The conditions in the camps are horrific and have an estimated annual casualty rate of 25 percent.
  8. The government of North Korea has no due process system, which means it can torture, imprison and execute prisoners whenever it believes it is necessary.
  9. Anyone who is participating in religious activities that are outside of the state’s permission will have similar consequences to those mentioned above, including imprisonment, torture or execution.
  10. The North Korean regime attempts to keep disabled citizens hidden from the majority of the population, and they are banned from the capital of North Korea, Pyongyang. Some disabled children are even killed after birth.

In consideration of these facts about human rights in North Korea, it is clear that rights of the citizens are extremely limited. However, although human rights in North Korea may be lacking, there has been some improvement. North Korea’s leadership has ongoing engagement with U.N. human rights treaty bodies. These include the Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Committee to Eliminate Discrimination Against Women.

Committees like these and other organizations are constantly working to spread awareness and improve human rights conditions within North Korea. Further progress is needed in order to dramatically change living conditions in the country, but it is fortunate that measures are already being taken to improve the rights of North Koreans.

– McCall Robison

Photo: Flickr