, Research Paper The Unspoken History of The Comfort Women Overview The story of comfort women has been a story of silence for the last 50 years. Comfort Women was a term used by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II, to refer to the women and girls who were coerced into sexual slavery. Between 1932 and 1945, approximately 200,000 women were forced into prostitution.
, Research Paper
The Unspoken History of The Comfort Women
The story of comfort women has been a story of silence for the last 50 years. Comfort Women was a term used by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II, to refer to the women and girls who were coerced into sexual slavery. Between 1932 and 1945, approximately 200,000 women were forced into prostitution. The women came from China, Philippines, Taiwan, Burma, Indonesia, Japan and Korea. They were recruited through deceit or by force. Some were abducted at gunpoint, sold by family members, or volunteered because of false promises of high paying jobs at factories or restaurants. These women were taken to comfort stations , some of which were homes, stables, dug out trenches, or even cages. Imprisoned for as long as eight years, these women were forced to have sexual intercourse with dozens of men a day. They were forced to give up their identities, loose their youth, and submit to the rape and abuse of the Japanese military. By the end of the war many women died of diseases, suicide or were ruthlessly murdered. They returned home traumatized and ashamed and in fear of dishonoring their families. Influenced by the patriarchal power of the times, these women kept this buried secret for half a century. It wasn t until the early nineties that these women finally spoke about their traumatic experiences and demanded an apology and compensation from Japan. The Japanese government however, turned a deaf ear. They said comfort women were willing prostitutes and denied much of its involvement in the issue. Weather these women were voluntary or not, scars remain from the crimes committed against them. In this essay I hope to inform you about an issue that has hardly been publicized. History had not told us of the horrors of the comfort women, how comfort stations were started, how these women were rounded up, their experiences, the growth of the stations, the end of the war and how fifty years later these old women came forward with a haunting truth, the government thought had been laid to rest five decades ago.
History of Prostitution
In pre-war Japan, prostitution was a state organized business. At the beginning of the Tokugawa period, attempts were made to gather all prostitutes into one area in order to control them and maintain public order. At this period in history suspicion on the trafficking of women already existed. Many women were also forced to repay debts by servicing in this line of work. Since the mid-eighteenth century, geishas were well known in the city Edo (Tokyo). Geishas however, were different from common prostitutes in that, they were rigorously trained as musicians and entertainers. By the late nineteenth century women could obtain licenses after a medical examination and work at brothels. Women usually worked at brothels to pay off loans they (pimps) had made to their families. Prostitutes however, were never free to come and go as they pleased, they were restricted from leaving. In the early twentieth century, prostitution had spread to several parts of Asia, including parts that would later be under Japanese rule. In 1904, Japanese influence attempted to organize prostitution by creating the Floating World or the red light district area, in Seoul and failed. But by 1910, Japan had managed licensed prostitution to be established. Under this system run by Japanese military-political police, prostitutes had to be continuously checked for sexually transmitted diseases and all infections had to be reported. Korea however, did not have the available health services, and over half of their prostitutes had contracted sexually transmitted diseases by the 1920 s. Since 1995, Japan is the largest market for Asian women, with over 150,000 working in its sex industry.
Why Comfort Stations were developed
During times of war, the exploitation of women for sexual services has been a common tradition as far back as the Roman Empire.
Superstitions are universal in armed forces. The Japanese had some, which were linked to sex. They included the belief that sex before going into battle worked as a charm against injury. Amulets could be made with the pubic hair of comfort women, or from something belonging to them. Sexual deprivation was believed to make one accident-prone. Sex also acted to relieve combat stress and, particularly in the Japanese case, the savage discipline endured by the troops.
The availability of a comfort woman was a relief to soldiers whose days were filled with battling and risking their lives. Going to a comfort station was like escaping to an oasis and a form of distressing and fulfillment. Traditionally, camp followers whom were prostitutes, voluntarily followed military men to the war zones, and settled there during the times of war. The Japanese army believed that by establishing comfort stations, earlier known as recreation centers , they would be able to control the contracting of sexually transmitted diseases (caught at civilian brothels), put a stop to the soldiers raping the women of the occupied territories and prevent espionage. They thought that restraining these men from sexual activity for long period of time would lead to such cases of rape and therefore damage the honor of the Imperial Army . But neither rape nor diseases was stopped by the development of comfort stations, rather, it contributed to the growth of these two scenarios. Japanese military run comfort stations was also a way to protect themselves from spies. The military feared military secrets would leak out to local prostitutes if the men continued to use civilian brothels. Therefore they wanted their own brothels under strict military supervision. For anti-espionage purposes, the army wanted comfort women to be Japanese, Korean or Taiwanese subjects. But importing them was hard and there were not enough, so they turned to local women.
Why and how the women were rounded up
In the early years of the war, as comfort stations were being established, prostitutes were provided for the military. These professional prostitutes however, carried venereal diseases, which spread among the troops. As the war continued to grow, the number of women at the stations was not enough given the size of the troops. Due to the shortage of women, those who were infected were not turned away. As the number of volunteers proved inadequate, those who supplied women for the stations turned to abduction and coercion. The Japanese however did not make any major attempt to recruit their own Japanese women because they were afraid the military men s morale would suffer if they knew their family members were being forced into prostitution, so they mainly turned to young non-professional Korean women and local women. The Japanese women that were recruited to China had to satisfy criteria imposed by the police. Regulations were: Currently working as prostitutes, twenty-one years of age, free of diseases and with proper identification papers. Nonetheless, these restrictions were never enforced. Eighty percent of the comfort women were aged between fourteen and eighteen. Not all women requested to go were prostitutes and not all women were requested, many were lured with lies or kidnapped. Very few women became comfort women at their free will. Cases of women being deceived and led off are much more common among those rounded up in Korea. Similar ways of rounding up the women occurred in Taiwan, Philippines and several other Asian countries. Many women were also round up in local military occupied territory.
There are personal accounts of women being deceived by other women. I find this lack of solidarity between women abominable. At fifteen years-old Song Shin-do was approached by a well-dressed Korean woman who asked her if she would like to work for her country. Song did not anticipate that she would be taken to Pyongyang and sold to a Korean man, who then took her to the station . Seventeen year-old Li Yong-suk was asked by a couple if she would like to go to Japan and work. After accepting the offer she was turned over to a Japanese man and shipped like military supplies to far-off places. Another teenage girl, Mun Ok Ju, was lured by the promise of a good salary working at a good restaurant. Together with a group of another seventeen girls she was taken to a Korean port and shipped off with about two hundred other teenage girls.
Not all women were lured by false promises. Many were violently led off or sold. Madam X was a fifteen year-old Chinese girl living in British Malaya, when Japanese soldiers came to her village. She was gang raped in front of her family and loaded on a truck with other village girls. She was a virgin at the time, like most other young girls taken away. Some girls were even as young as eleven, and had not even started menstruating.
The Kitamuras was a couple that provided girls for the comfort stations. In 1942, they bought twenty-two Korean women from their parents. They paid the parents some where between 200-1000 yen for each girl. The couple never specified exactly what it was they were selling their daughters into; nobody would have imagined it to be sexual slavery. In those days daughters were the first ones to go, if the family was faced with economic difficulty. Cultural beliefs were very oppressive of women. A woman was considered a disgrace unless she was married. In Nora Okja Keller s novel, Comfort Woman, a younger twelve year-old sister is sold to a Japanese soldier for dowry, so that the oldest sister would be able to marry.
The growth of Comfort Stations
The first comfort stations under direct control of the Japanese Army were established in Shanghai in 1932. The Navy constructed the first comfort stations in Shanghai. They covered up there existence by calling them restaurants.
In Shanghai, the Chinese government had been attempting to enforce a ban on licensed prostitution. For appearances sake, the Japanese Foreign Ministry had to cooperate with this effort, so in 1929 the ministry abolished the licensed brothel system. However, the Japanese government created the restaurant serving woman system as a loophole for itself, in effect retaining a form of licensed prostitution.
By 1936, ten of these establishments existed, employing over a hundred women. When the war broke out, women were recruited immediately. In March 1933, more comfort stations were established modeled after those built by the Navy. The very first military comfort station was called Disease Prevention and Hygiene Facility , because a major aim for establishing the facility was to keep the men away from infected civilian brothels. From 1938, more than one million Japanese troops occupied China s mainland. That was the largest number of military men Japan has ever had on active duty. Several other comfort stations were built throughout China, as the number of military troops increased.
During the Nanking massacre, hideous rapes of the local women were committed, this lead to the building of more than sixty comfort centers in Nanking. In hopes of controlling the rape of local women, comfort stations spread to the cities of Yangzhou, Changchow and Zhenjiang. Between 1938 and 1939, an estimated 82 stations were built in Central China. As Japanese troops moved to northern China, so did the growth of comfort centers. But the raping of local women did not end and more stations were built. When the fighting spread to southern China in 1938, over a thousand women were providing services to the troops in southern China. In July 1941, as eight hundred thousand troops waited for war, The Kwantung Army requested an assembly of twenty thousand comfort women be sent to Northeastern China. Only ten thousand were sent.
Evidence of such stations has already been found in Korea, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Burma, New Guinea and Okinawa. Every place the Japanese Army set foot on, comfort stations were built. There were a total of 400 different locations for these facilities. As the system expanded, however, the military, for the most part, turned the management of the stations over to private operators. These civilian operators were given paramilitary status and rank, while the Armed Forces retained overall supervision and provided support in transport and health services as required.
The lives of the Comfort Women
One of the first comfort stations built in Shanghai consisted of ten barrack block-like huts and a supervisors hut, all enclosed by a fence. Inside each hut were ten rooms, with numbers on the door. Several other comfort stations were also established in hotels, restaurants, shops, mansions, schools, temples and any building that had several rooms and a convenient location for soldiers. Rooms were usually furnished with a bed, blanket, and disinfectant liquid. Some comfort stations did not have walls to separate the rooms, but hanging mats. Other stations near the front lines, had no floors, and were simply set up on dirt floors. Some women spent years imprisoned in small tunnels. Even closer to the front lines, the better comfort stations were set up in ruined civilian homes. There were also comfort stations where a simple wooden fence was put up and inside a rush mat was laid out. It was just like a communal latrine. The conditions of the stations varied, depending on the locations.
When the women first arrived at the stations they underwent a registration process and signed an agreement form with little knowledge of what they were signing. This agreement was then filed as a consent form. Some women had to sign contracts to repay loans given to their parents. This placed them in the situation of being indentured servants . The comfort women received a meager pay. All they made was spent on clothing, food, liquor or even drugs and were left with nothing in the end. Some women received no pay at all. The money for the comfort women was paid upfront. Soldiers would buy a ticket for a price in accordance to their military rank.
Once the women arrived at the stations there was no turning back. They were not allowed to leave, similar to slaves or the restrictions on prostitutes. Some however, were given a monthly pass with a group of five to seven women, for a very strict and limited amount of time. The areas they were allowed to go to were about the distance of a block, making it impossible for them to flee. They were always under strict surveillance.
Regulations were also established for the management of the facilities and hygiene services. Rooms had to be weekly disinfected and the women routinely checked. The treatment of women for venereal diseases was a basic policy as well as providing them with the proper nutrition. Yet, there are cases of women who went routinely unfed or untreated. As the war escalated, malnutrition spread as well as limited supplies of medicine.
If infected, the women were not admitted to go to hospital as occurred in some areas, but were allowed to rest in their rooms during the treatment. A sign No entry this week , would be placed on the door. There are however references to women being allowed to die untreated, or abandoned or even killed . Where treatment was not given, folk remedies were sometimes tried, such as concoctions of garlic, dandelion or obscure local herbs. Conditions of formal treatment, where varied, varied between military and civilian hospitals . When the women had to pay for treatment, this would consume much of their earnings.
Some diseases were incurable. There have been stories of women with infections growing do badly they were yellow with pus, from their vaginas up to their stomachs. In an interview a former comfort women stated that in her camp, those women who got sick more than three times were taken away and never seen again. Regulation insisted on the men using condoms, many however refused because stating they may die in combat tomorrow and those that were willing to use them, did not always find them available. Some women reported washing and recycling used condoms. Whether the comfort women bought to China were a source of infection or not is highly debatable. Women with no history of prostitution should be seen as victims who were infected by the troops rather than a source of infection. Under regulation women and men were suppose to both sterilize their private areas after intercourse, but women stated not to have had enough time during rush hours. By 1942, the number of Southern Army personnel suffering from sexually transmitted diseases reached 2,774.
Women were expected to provide service, even while they were menstruating. Others provided services before they even had their first menstruation. The average number of men comfort women were forced to have sex with was between thirty and forty a day. Some days consisted of even between forty to sixty men. Very few women had a day off. Most had no days off and worked twenty-four hours if they had to spend the night with an officer. The comfort stations were mainly for the military but noncommissioned officers were allowed to enter, and guest as well.
Some women experienced unwanted pregnancies and were forced to take pills of herbal concoctions to abort. In Nora Okja Keller s novel she gives a disturbing description of a young girl having to choose between rat poison and the use of the stick, which was a stick with a hook, used to pull the fetus out. Some women went through with their pregnancies while others aborted or committed suicide.
Drugs and suicide were the only ways to escape for many women. They could not runaway, and they couldn t stand the physical and mental torment. Some became opium addicted; many others would go to the medical center for injections of morphine. The women would smoke opium blended with tobacco and found that it relieved fear and distress. A young woman describes the pain that lead her to her drug addiction.
With no warning, they raped me. I became desperate. One after another, so many of them. And then the soldiers came one after another and I had to have intercourse with them. When it was busy, I just lie down on my back, eating rice balls with legs spread apart, the soldiers come and mount me and leave, mount me and leave. Finally, I am beyond pain. From the waist down I get numb and lose all feeling. It s a struggle just getting up each day.
Chung Seo Woon was a comfort women forced into becoming an opium addict and attempted to commit suicide by swallowing malaria pills. The mistreatment of these women, from rape, to being beaten got so bad for many of them that death was the only way out. Li Yong-nyo was a woman who killed herself by drinking cheap liquor and taking opium. Mun Ok-chu was another girl who wanted to die, but did not succeed. She got drunk and threw herself out of a three-story building and survived. There were even a few cases of double suicide, in which both the soldier and comfort woman die or she is forced into suicide.
The women were not the only ones using drugs to escape reality. Many soldiers were opium addicts and drunks. Although regulation strictly prohibited the entrance of men under the influence of alcohol, they still managed to get in. Many women experienced several acts of violence while having to service drunk men. One woman was taken away by a drunken soldier and shot. Other women speak of experiences of being stabbed, beaten, or made to do humiliating sexual services.
There are very few cases of women having good healthy experiences. Some veterans however have come forward with their views on the matter, describing it as being exposed to a grotesque world. But an example of an opposite and rare situation was that of a comfort woman taken care of by a Lieutenant who taught her to read and write or those excused to serve as auxiliary nurses for those injured in combat. Stories like these are very few of the thousands of stories. Most women lived through traumatizing experiences that would harm them for the rest of their lives.
The end of World War III
The end of the war did not mean the end of the nightmares of these women.
At the end of the war, many soldiers either murdered the comfort women, or made their sex slaves part of their own mass suicides in order to avoid embarrassment after Japan s surrender. A majority of those women who survived felt too humiliated to return to their families, and lived the next forty to fifty years of their lives in shamed, anonymous silence.
There were instances as well, when the military attempted to cover up their ill doings by immediately registering the women as civilian employees of local hospitals. Those that were too ashamed to returned home were left to starve and a majority was killed to avoid them from speaking of their experiences. In a case, a sergeant threw two grenades into the stations to kill them all before his troops committed mass suicide. The Japanese Army thought it would be an embarrassment to them, if the Americans were to hear of the grim stories that occurred at the comfort stations; so murdering the women was the best alternative. Several women were shot one by one at point blank. A group of comfort women committed suicide by drowning with the rest of the village women, rather than be caught by the enemy army, in the Marianas. Other women ran away with the Japanese troops who escaped to the jungle. Hiding in the jungle, they lived off the earth for about four months until resorting to cannibalism. Several faced death by Filipino guerillas. Other women had trouble getting off the Philippine islands when the war had died out.
Those who remained were badly raped and then killed, or left behind with nowhere to go. The postal orderly in Hupei reports that at the end of the war some comfort women in his area were robbed by local people, down to their underwear. Some women remained as comfort women because that was all they knew how to do, after all. With all the years of physiological torment, these women found nothing else to do with their lives, but remain the women they were made to be. After so many years of being treated like whores , they started to believe they were nothing more than whores .
When women started returning to their homelands, they were not welcomed with open arms. Many were faced with attitudes of disgust or rejection. Attitudes as these can be seen in remarks such as; There is no need to treat them as human. They re less than cattle , which were the way most comfort women were viewed. These attitudes as well as cultural beliefs, made these women have to bury their secret. For them, the war had not ended. They had to face the patriarchal views of their culture. These women were afraid to show their face. They worried about preserving their dignity.
In a society dominated by patriarchal views of chastity and morality, and a lack of openness about sex, the shame of the whole repugnant experience silenced many women. Many may have felt themselves to blame for their fate. Women in such a position were more likely to want to keep their whole wartime ordeal hushed up rather than demonstrate for compensation. The very fact that female chastity has such a high moral value made loss of virginity even more devastating and psychologically more damaging to the comfort women victims. Their prospects for a respectable marriage and a family were dramatically reduced. Those who did marry often kept their shame secret for decades, enduring their conjugal activities as a torment, and suffering severe mental anguish, which could not find release in an open acknowledgement of the wrong done to them. In societies which placed great emphasis on the birth of heirs, many of the women proved sterile, crippled by a variety of diseases, the brutality of their experiences, the drugs they were sometimes forced to consume to abort unwanted pregnancies or to prevent or cure diseases. Sometimes they had been sterilized by the operations done on them to eliminate menstruation, keeping them always available. They had trouble coping with the need to pretend to normalcy.
Many went home and lied about what they had done for the last two to eight years. Many couldn t return home because their families had abandoned them during the war. The pain they felt was great, but the shame was even greater. Many never married because they were no longer virgins, or still infected by incurable venereal diseases that would come and go or irreparable damages was done to their reproductive systems. Those that were able to marry and have children didn t want their children to know of their suffering. The fact that the government shamed them into silence and then pretended as though nothing had happened was psychologically troubling for these women. Without being able to come forward with the truth, these women never let go of the past. They never had the closure and justice they needed to continue normal lives. They were physically, emotionally and mentally scared. The society they returned to did not help them cope with their past, but rather contributed to their troubles. They of course suffered from depression, paranoia, inferiority complexes, mental illnesses and other severe mental disorders. There was no doubt that these women grew to hate men, hate sex, and maybe even life. It is not a surprise many took there lives or never returned home, to live a lie or be rejected by family members. A woman spoke of her experience returning to Korea and described experiencing a guilty conscience because she had known she was a prostitute. Upon returning she suffered the prejudice and discrimination from her family and friends. Nora Okja Keller s novel tell a very profound story of the life of a comfort woman from the times in the camp, to her raising her daughter and not being able to lead a normal life. This was the case for all the women, who had already become fallen women in their own eyes.
Coming Forward and the Governments Response
During the late eighties, Scholars started investigating and researching the past. Women activist groups were formed to encourage women to come forward with their testimonies. By 1990, several comfort women had broken their silence to gather together and share the stories of their years in slavery. In the early 90 s, hotlines were set up for comfort women to call in and to help gather information. Organizations for Justice of Comfort Women demonstrated outside the Japanese embassy in Seoul. They petitioned for the Japanese government to give individual apologies and compensations and the government denied its involvement on national television. That was when a Korean woman, Kim Kak publicly testified and led the way for several others to come forward as well. Since 1991, 160 women came forward.
In 1992, documents from the Self Defense Agency Library were published, proving the link between comfort stations and the Japanese military. With this proof out in the light, the Japanese government saw no choice but to admit government involvement but denied the women compensation. The women who came forward were mocked and rumors spread they were simply after the money. At this point activist continue to fight and picket for the recognition of the comfort women. In 1995, Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto sent written apologies to about 300 such women and the government has agreed to give each of them almost $20,000, plus nearly $6.3 million in medical and welfare services. This seemed as an attempt by the government to hush the women by giving them what they thought they wanted. The women however continue to come forward and insist on personal apologies and compensation. Many former comfort women state that they don t want the money and many refused to accept it. Japan responded to further demands by refusing to comply and arguing that the issue has already been settled by agreements between Japan and the governments concerned. Japanese government is referring to the post war treaty of 1951, The San Francisco Peace Treaty, in which they had already paid atonement money and the compensation paid and apologies made in 1995.
After paying compensations and giving apologies, therefore admitting their wrong doings, the Japanese government continued to deny several allegations. The government claimed comfort women were camp followers (willing prostitutes) who received pay for their services. A percentage of the women did receive pay, but that was the evil ploy during the war to make it look as if the women were legitimately employed, or consenting prostitutes. Another one of the government arguments was that civilians ran the stations. By saying they were brothels, created and managed by private operators, they would relieve themselves of the responsibilities of the crimes committed at the comfort stations. This however was discovered untrue with the publication of the 1992 documents.
In October 1998, Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi apologized to the people of Korea for the behavior of the troops and the pain it may have inflicted. In November, Japanese courts rejected the claims of 46 women who served as comfort women in the Philippines during the war. It continued to be a constant battle for all the women who came forward with their haunting stories. Recently, this past December, Japan is still being asked for compensation and apologies for state-sponsored crimes. Japan however responds to this by asking non-governmental organizations to pay a petty amount of money to former CWAs in a bid to keep its past crimes buried in oblivion and avoid governmental responsibility for the sexual slave-related crimes.
Military involvement and the Crimes Committed
The chain of command linked officers in the field supervising the provisioning and operation of Military comfort stations to the highest reaches of the War and Foreign Ministries, where the transport of comfort women was approved and organized. Most elite members were responsible for the setting up of the comfort stations. Someone with power (Ministry of War) had to actively approve and promote the establishment of these camps. A document issued in 1938, entitled Matters Concerning the Recruitment of Women to Work in Military Comfort Stations, confirmed the participation of the Ministry of War s involvement. According to this 1938 document, the Ministry of War was aware that the procurers entrusted by army units in the field with the task of rounding up comfort women were resorting to methods akin to kidnapping in Japan. To diminish such problems, the North China Area Army and the Central China Expeditionary Force regulated the rounding up of women. They ordered procurers to gather women with the help of the local police or military police. This turned into a growing problem because the recruiting of women was unsupervised, or many who recruited women claimed to act with military consent. It turned into a market of women. The trafficking of young innocent girls, in the name of the war and military, was a problem the government could have had more control over. The military continued to recruit, knowing others were taking advantage of the war situation and the high demand for prostitutes at comfort stations. If the girls were bought in illegally, the government could have turned them away once they arrived at the camps, but instead they didn t question anything and made them into sex slaves.
At first the military must have not expected the war to escalate as it did. They did not expect the size of the army to grow as large as it did either, and therefore did not foresee the problem these comfort stations would grow to be. Regardless, the government made little effort to control it. On the other hand, they continued to promote it. Around 1939, Strategies on Setting Up Comfort Stations, was taught in an accounting course. In this course the army was taught such things as; the endurance of the women rounded up in local areas and the rates at which they would wear out . How long they would be in use . Setting different prices for different ranks and prices for overstaying. Women were looked at and treated like commodities. As the military lost control of the running of the stations, consulates were charged with the task of regulating the comfort stations. As more and more got involved in the running of the facilities, it became harder to keep order. As I had mentioned earlier, the government gave civilians the authority to participate in the establishment of comfort stations. The Ministry of War also ordered the cooperation of the military police and local police. As you can see, all those involved with the establishment of comfort stations ranged from high military power to civilian people.
Today there still remains a struggle to make the crimes committed be recognized as War Crimes . The trafficking of women did exist, at the same time as International Treaties banning such activities. By 1933, treaties existed banning the trafficking of slaves, women and children. Yet it still occurred because of loopholes in International laws. Laws existed prohibiting forced and compulsory labor, yet this slavery of women was allowed to happen. Rapes, beatings, slavery, forced prostitution and several other occurrences were crimes against humanity, committed during World War II. In 1948, 13 officials were found guilty and punished. What happen to the rest of the thousands involved?
This issue was very easily laid to rest in by 1950. It seems to me as though all government and military men were well aware of the occurrences but chose to ignore them. The government turned their back on their own women. The issue of ethnic annihilation was also bought up, but it wasn t an attempt to kill a certain race, rather it was an attempt against women if anything. This shows a miniscule cultural value placed on women. There are many issues that must be considered before pointing any fingers. The study of Comfort Women is much more complex than the few major issues I have bought up in this paper. We must consider all that was happening during the time of war. The anger and fear of the war was taken out on the women enslaved to give these same men comfort . An overall madness existed within the evilness of war. We must consider the history of prostitution and what lead up to such a social openness and acceptance in this field. This openness in prostitution was what helped the government cover up many of its doings. We must also consider the economics and the politics of sexual slavery. The loopholes and the sources of income provided by the comfort facilities. Large sums of money were being made at all stages in the establishing of the stations.
There is so much more we do not know about and the military has covered up and history has ignored. Japan cannot avoid its responsibility for the human rights abuses they committed or allowed to be committed. The fact remains that hundreds of thousands of women were forced into prostitution during the war. Some women were taken at very young ages and their whole lives destroyed. But who do we blame and will compensate? The truth is that there is no answer. Matters like this one cannot be settled with money or simple apologies. Punishment cannot be enforced to anyone individual. This issue runs deeper than this. No apology can change the damage already embedded in these women. We can however stop it from occurring again. It has been said that things like this occur at every war. That will never make it justifiable. Women must come forward and tell their stories of the evilness and war and the military. Maybe then they can shame the military as mush as the government has shamed them.
History must speak for itself and for these women. Maybe in letting the world know the damaged that was caused, these women will finally receive the justice they rightfully deserve. History cannot continue to ignore them. They have been emotionally violated for the last fifty to sixty years, and it must end now. History must teach us as much about the Comfort Women as it has taught us about the Jews and the Nazis or the slaves and the soldiers of war. There is a lot we can learn from this story. Crimes against women remain a contemporary problem that maybe we can stop from continuing.
It is impossible to ever know exactly how these women felt but by simply reading their experiences, I feel moved inside. I have enjoyed learning about the comfort Women because it has been a part of history unspoken or taught about. I am proud to have enlightened those who have read my essay and were never aware of this horrid war crime. The sources I mainly used were Yoshimi and Hick. They were very informative. Yet there is so much they don t cover and many issues still haven t been fully researched that remain in question. This study of war and crimes is a vast one, that a historian can spend his life uncovering.
+ Berndt, Caroline.Journal of Popular Culture;Bowling Green; Fall 1997
+ Coday, Dennis.National Catholic Reporter,Oct 23, 1998 v35 n1 p14
+ Chelala, Cesar.The Lancet,April 3, 1999 v353 i9159 p1195
+ Hammel Jesse.San Francisco Chronicle; San Fransisco, Calif; Nov 21, 2000
+ Hicks, George.The Comfort Women. 1994, W.W Norton & Company, NY, London
+ Keller, Nora Okja.Comfort Woman. 1997, Penguin Books, NY
+ Malcolm, Teresa.National Catholic Reporter; Nov 13, 1998
+ Mitchell, Richard.The American Historical Review; Washington; April 1997
+ Moon, Katherine.Asian Survey,March-April 1999 v39 i2 p310
+ Struck, Doug.The Washington Post.Washington D.C; Dec 9, 2000
+ Sullivan, Kevin.Houston Chronicle;Houston, Tex; Dec 5, 1996
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