- 2. COMFORT WOMEN OR SEX SLAVES?
Korean comfort women discovered in Burma in September 1944.
Park Young-sim, a former comfort woman, points to herself in a photo.The term comfort women was taken from Japanese records of the time and is now widely used to refer to the former sex slaves. Considering that these women were demeaned and made to exist solely for Japanese soldiers’ “comfort,” there is no denying that the term glosses over the sexual violence which constitutes the very point of the comfort women issue. Furthermore, in light of the universal values shared by humanity, the term represents patriarchical values and militaristic ethics.
“Sexual slavery,” on the other hand, came into use as a more appropriate term to describe the reality of the women’s victimization (rape by the Japanese military) in a United Nations Special Rapporteur’s report.
While the term comfort women is in common use in East Asia, “military sex slaves” is more generally used in the international community now. Neither term is respectful of the victims’ loss of dignity, though.
Thus, just a glance at the issue of terminology reveals that the comfort women problem is essentially one related to a universal value: human rights.
Korean comfort women in an Okinawan prison camp in 1945
The 90th issue (December 4,1994) of a bulletin published by the Ishi unit of the 62nd Division of the Japanese army, which was stationed in Okinawa. The bulletin lists the prices and hours ofoperation of the comfort station.
Korean comfort women captured in Burma in 1944
A Japanese prisoner of war information report filed with the United States Office of War Information. The report was based on questioning of twenty Korean comfort women and two Japanese comfort station operators.