Comfort Women Speak

Sangmie Choi Schellstede, Editor Holmes & Meier Publishers $27.5 (168p) ISBN 978-0-8419-1413-1
From about 1933 until the end of WWII, the Japanese military conscripted an estimated 200,000 women to work in ""Comfort Stations"" or brothels where Japanese soldiers could receive sex on demand. Frequently lured from their homes with promises of high-paying factory work, these women, most of whom came from countries like Korea and the Philippines (which were under Japanese rule at the time), were imprisoned in the comfort stations for as long as eight years, received no money for their services and suffered torture or even death if they refused to comply with the soldiers' demands. Because those who survived were too traumatized and ashamed to speak of their experience, the history of the comfort women remained largely unknown until 1991, when one survivor spoke out and brought the attention of human rights activists to the women's plight. Here the Washington Coalition for Comfort Women Issues has compiled an oral history comprised of interviews with 19 surviving comfort women, who describe their ordeals in harrowing detail. They were routinely underfed and forced to service up to 50 soldiers a day. While their responses to their experience range from anger to resignation, all feel that their lives were permanently blighted as a result. As the first volume in a series on science and human rights issues, these testimonies make a powerful case for the apologies and reparations that the Japanese government has yet to grant. Readers dedicated to human rights, and women's rights in particular, as well as Korean-Americans will form a solid if modest market for this moving document, whose text is complemented by articulate photographs by Soon Mi Yu. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/04/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
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