[EDITORIALS]Deliver them from 'hell'

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[EDITORIALS]Deliver them from 'hell'

Are Korea's red-light districts a lawless world? A diary kept by a Filipino woman, who claims to have been locked up and forced to engage in prostitution at a club near a U.S. military base in Dongducheon, Gyeonggi province, is so full of stories about her miserable life, including confinement, beating, surveillance, abortion and starvation, that one cannot continue to read it.

Early this year, 15 Korean women who had also been forced into prostitution in a brothel in Gunsan, North Jeolla province, died in a fire in a small house where their procurer kept them in captivity. Despite all the hype that followed the tragic accident, the recently found diary is an outright revelation that the human rights of prostitutes have not improved a bit.

The Filipino government is seeking damages in a lawsuit against the owner of the Dongducheon club on behalf of a group of 11 Filipino women who worked there, including the one who kept the diary. The International Organization for Migration, an intergovernmental organization on human rights, is said to have studied the trafficking of foreign women in the Dongducheon area and reported the result to its headquarters in Geneva.

There have been a series of reports that since the mid-1990s nearly 5,000 women from Russia and the Philippines have been smuggled into Korea and forced into sexual slavery. The Korean government's indifference to the problem has invited international criticism and caused a national disgrace.

Even though Korean law bans prostitution, the government has not done its best to eradicate it. The government must be stricter in issuing the E-6 visa for those seeking jobs in the local entertainment industry. The visa is suspected of being used by international human-trafficking rings to smuggle foreign women into Korea.

The United States permits foreign victims of sex slavery to remain in the country three years. Korea should provide shelters and legal support for foreign women trafficked here for prostitution so that they will no longer think of Korea as a "hellish country."
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