August 2005 marks the 60th anniversary of the end of WWII. However, for the ‘comfort women,’ civilians forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military between 1932 and 1945, there has been no escape from the war and no answer for its harm. In support of these women and their fight for an official apology and compensation from the Japanese government, V-Day has joined with organizations across East and Southeast Asia to launch the “Global V-Day Campaign for Justice to ‘Comfort Women.’ Given the 21st century’s escalating armed conflicts, the precedent of impunity for wartime sexual violence cannot be tolerated. Furthermore, as patterns of systematic rape and sexual violence continue today in places of armed conflict such as Sudan, Congo, and Iraq, the importance of recognizing the human rights atrocity committed against women during WWII is paramount. Therefore, V-Day is proud to not only join in the ‘comfort women’s’ crusade for reparations, but to make the campaign the V-Day spotlight for 2006.
“The Global V-Day Campaign for Justice to ‘Comfort Women’ launched in New York on February 28, 2005 during the landmark session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. On August 10, 2005, international groups fighting for justice to ‘comfort women’ organized a Global Day of Action with simultaneous demonstrations in front of Japanese embassies around the world as part of the observance of the 60th anniversary of the end of WWII. Leading up to the Global Day of Action, V-Day’s partners organized multi-national efforts to bring attention to the demands of the ‘comfort women’ including: a global petition presented to the UN by South Korean survivors; and 60 days of demonstrations and survivors’ testimonies leading up to the 60th anniversary of the war’s end in the Netherlands.
In the summer of 2006, the Global Campaign will include V-Day celebrity benefit performances of “The Vagina Monologues” in Seoul and Tokyo. These performances will feature the voices of ‘comfort women’ in a monologue written by Playwright/V-Day Founder V (formerly Eve Ensler), uniting activism with performance art to open dialogue, draw international attention and support, and reverse efforts by nationalists in Japan to erase from history one of the most horrendous war crimes against women in the 20th century. The Global Campaign will also include: a street march and folk song competition featuring the survivors and national celebrities in Taiwan; photographic exhibits, film tours, and testimonial books in Japan, Philippines, and Taiwan; a campaign for ‘comfort women’ history in textbooks in Japan and South Korea; and the construction of museums to document the enslavement of civilians as ‘comfort women’ and their ongoing struggle for justice from the Japanese government in Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan.
As the 2006 V-Day Spotlight, the Global Campaign be highlighted at the thousands of V-Day 2006 benefit performance of “The Vagina Monologues” held on college campuses and community centers around the world.
Resources and Suggestions for a Teaching Unit on
“Comfort Women”: Survivors of Japan’s Military Sexual Slavery 1932-1945
A guide for college and high school teachers created by Dr. Ricki E. Kantrowitz and Dr. Vanessa Holford Diana of Westfield State College to coincide with the 2006 Global V-Day Campaign for Justice to “Comfort Women”: Survivors of Japan’s Military Sexual Slavery. It provides teaching suggestions, links and resources about the history of “Comfort Women,” current reparation efforts, and legal developments. The unit is appropriate for college or high school classes in literature, psychology, women’s studies, Asian studies, history, and cultural studies.
Download: [Adobe Acrobat PDF]
If anyone is interested in also finding out more information about hosting a visit of Comfort Women in the Spring semester, we are awaiting confirmation from the Korean council on permission for their travel, but you can contact Shael Norris to add your name to the list in the meantime.
Statement by the Philippine Working Group Against Militarism on the Reported Rape of Filipino Women by US Military Personnel
Download: [Adobe Acrobat PDF]
For additional information on the current status of the ‘comfort women’ and the global campaign for justice to ‘comfort women’ visit:
“South Korean former sex slaves renew calls for Japan to apologize “ (Mainichi Daily News, Japan)
V-Day Brings ‘Comfort Women’ to the U.S. for Speaking Tour as Part of the 2006 Global V-Day Campaign for Justice
Horrors of past still haunt ‘comfort women’ (The Providence Journal, RI)
The Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan (South Korea)
Asian Centre for Women’s Human Rights (Philippines)
Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation (Taiwan)
FOKUPERS – Communication Forum for East Timorese Women (Timor L’Este)
Indonesian Women’s Association for Justice (Indonesia)
Stichting Japanse Ereschulden – Japanese Honorary Debts Foundation (The Netherlands)
Background: Comfort Women
The euphemism ‘comfort women’ was coined by imperial Japan to refer to young females of various ethnic and national backgrounds who were forced to offer sexual services to the Japanese troops during the Asia/Pacific Wars between 1932 and 1945. Some were minors sold into ‘comfort stations,’ others were deceptively recruited by middlemen, and still more were detained and forcibly abducted. Estimates of the number of ‘comfort women’ range between 50,000 to 200,000.
In the early 1990s, nearly a half a century after the end of WWII, Korean victims of Japan’s military sexual slavery, followed by other survivors in China, Taiwan, North Korea, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Netherlands, and Timor L’Este, broke their silence and began to call for justice and reparations for the unanswered war crimes. Despite years of protests, including the weekly demonstrations held by survivors in South Korea in front of the Japanese embassy for the past 13 years, the Japanese government still denies legal responsibility. Now, the aging survivors are dying off one by one without any type redress, formal apology, or historical acknowledgment by a government that stole their freedom and power for so many years.