Comfort Women Speak Part I

IsabelleChanStarred Page By IsabelleChan, 25th Aug 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Essays

This book review concludes my thoughts after reading the poignant and heart-breaking book Comfort Women Speak, in which a group of Korean women speak up about their plights in WWII during the darkest time of their lives.

A Brief Introduction

They were once in a woeful plight, and are still suffering from unspeakable pains of all kinds including fear, guilt and self-loathing that have been haunting them since the Japanese sent them to the military camps in WWII. They were the ‘comfort women’ − a group of incredibly resilient females that have reached beyond human limits and fought for survival in face of adversity. Yet, only 20 percent of them live long enough to sue the Japanese by testimonies, while the others have died of venereal diseases, excessive sex and physical abuse. There is no way the Japanese could deny the existence of ‘comfort women’, for they truly exist, and are here to tell us the hidden truth.

When Darkness Befalls

The ‘comfort women’ were once a group of young, vigorous girls that looked no different than ordinary 13-year-olds, until they were suddenly abducted by the Japanese soldiers and were forced to ‘dedicate’ their virginity to a stranger for their pleasure. A great many of them passed out and woke up in a pool of blood, completely ignorant of the atrocities that have just performed on them. Not only were they turned into sex slaves, but also sub-humans. The Japanese gave these girls little food, thin clothes and rarely any protection from unwanted pregnancy. Condoms were scarce and insanitary, napkins were hardly usable and no recovery period after pregnancy was ever granted. The ‘comfort women’ were, in the eyes of the Japanese soldiers, only used as ‘emitters of lust’ and were improperly dehumanized. These stories are so similar in terms of circumstance, yet so unbelievable in terms of their cruelty, which makes my heart sinks. What makes me further sad is that once a ‘comfort women’ caught a disease, she would be either buried alive or directly thrown to the river. I wonder how could the Japanese, who have always proclaimed themselves as civilized mortals, treat the ‘comfort women’ in such inhumane ways. Their wickedness is completely against humanity, justice and goodness. Reading the stories of these brave warriors would wreck one’s heart. Have the Japanese no shame, no compassion nor sense of quilt? I blame not only the Japanese, but also the Japanese government, which never acknowledges their evil deeds even after 100 years.

Human Spirit Shines on These Saints

Among these victims, some of them actually volunteered to be sex slaves because they wanted to protect their mother and younger sisters. They were only 13 or 14 years old, but their maturity is beyond proper measure. Not aware of the unknowns and uncertainties lying ahead, these girls were courageous enough to shoulder the burden alone. Women are, after all, not that futile as we traditionally presume. What amazed me most is the fortitude and altruism that these girls exhibited. We, outsiders would not expect them to fight for survival given the harsh circumstances that they were in, but the ‘comfort women’ revealed a glint of strength and determination in their eyes, which touched me deep down inside. After years of inhumane enslavement, the former ‘comfort women’ decided to carry on their lives instead of spending the rest of it recalling those painful episodes. They went to work, tried to be self-sufficient and recovered much faster than we have ever imagined. They may not be well-bred, but they have demonstrated impressive courage in times of darkness. Only when I finished reading their testimonies did I realize that the Japanese have totally underestimated the strength of human spirit.

Tags

Book Review, Comfort Women, Female Sex Role, Gender Inequality, History, Japanese, Japanese Army, Opinion, War, Wwii

Meet the author

author avatar IsabelleChan
A Chinese lady. Loves literature. A staunch feminist. Hopelessly romantic. Write to Live. Also find my writings at http://www.expertscolumn.com

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Comments

author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
26th Aug 2012 (#)

You have captured so well the emotions and hopelessness involved and the utter cruelty and futility of war, Isabelle. Wars make us inhuman and that is an understatement! These are blots on humanity in general and to what level we can stoop! siva

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author avatar IsabelleChan
26th Aug 2012 (#)

Thanks, siva! The testimonies of comfort women really ache my heart. As a girl and one who concerns about gender issues, I just can't help but feel tremendously sympathetic of their ordeal, which no ordinary human being shall be subjected to. Wars are fueled by greed, insanity, cruelty, selfishness and so many more unwarranted desires that I can barely take it.

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author avatar Jonald
26th Aug 2012 (#)

is this really happen in Philippines.

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author avatar IsabelleChan
26th Aug 2012 (#)

What do you mean, Jonald? These testimonies are from KOREAN women, not Filipinos. Do you mean that the has happened in the Philippines too?

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