The history of Asian women has many facets. I am about to touch on two key monumental points over a sixty year span that have shaped the views of Asian women in the eyes of Americans. As a brief overview, from as early as the 1940s, Asian women were recruited to serve their soldiers during World War II as sex slaves. Forty years later, the dawning of the 1980s brought about the desire of Asian women into American households and sparked the mail order bride phenomenon. The beginning of a new century has altered the lives of Asian women, in parts of Asia as well as in the United States of America. I will give you a glimpse into their every day lives in their home country and site observations to their strides into the American workforce today. Let me unveil the lives of Asian women . . . past, present, and future.
During World War II, hundreds of thousands of women from all parts of Asia were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese army to “serve” soldiers on the front lines. These poor young women, generally known as “comfort women”, were recruited, kidnapped, sold, enticed, and deceived with the promise of well-paying jobs to serve their soldiers. Eighty percent of the estimated 100,000 to 200,000 “comfort women” of WWII were Korean girls and women. These unfortunate victims were stationed in “comfort stations” throughout Asia and the South Pacific. Prisoners in these stations were subject to daily degrations such as physical and verbal abuse, repeated rapes, hard labor, and sometimes murder.
The women drafted as “comfort women” had a regimented schedule. To much astonishment, each women had to serve twenty to forty men a day at a rate of a man every thirty minutes, sometimes even ten to fifteen minutes per soldier. In the morning, rank-and-file soldiers would line up outside a woman’s room. Afternoons would be reserved for middle-ranking officers and evening hours for higher-ranking officers. Commanders of a military unit, or the camp where “comfort stations” existed, monopolized the overnight stay privileges.
When the war ended, most “comfort women” were simply abandoned. The “comfort women” have been hidden victims for over half a century. Having been victims of sexual violence, where a woman’s chastity is upheld as more important than life itself, many of these women have blamed themselves and kept their sufferings from family members and the community, fearing tainting of the family name.
Stetz and Oh indicate although WWII has ended and is now a mass piece of history, the “comfort women” ordeal still exists today. They continue their isolated existence in poverty and poor health. They have not regained their honor nor had their pains eased. These women continue to endure insulting comments made by irresponsible Japanese officials and by neoconservative nationalists, who claim that many Asian women were merely sex workers for money...