The Unspoken History Of The Comfort Women

6318 words - 25 pages

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. 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...

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