While North Korea remains one of the most repressive societies in the world, life for women there is especially harsh, according to a report released on Thursday by New York-based Human Rights Watch. 

North Korean authorities routinely commit sexual violence against women with impunity, according to the report, which was based on interviews with 54 North Koreans who fled the country and eight former officials.

"Unwanted sexual contact and violence is so common that it has come...