© Paula Allen Thousands of women known as "comfort women" were forced into servitude by the Government of Japan for the armed forces in the 1930s before and after the Second World War. In what became known as a system of "military sexual slavery", women were abducted, beaten, raped and coerced into providing sexual services for the Japanese military.
The full extent of the sexual slavery system has never been fully disclosed by the Government of Japan, though it is thought that as many as 200,000 women were enslaved. The Government of Japan continues to refuse to officially acknowledge its responsibility for these crimes.
The "comfort women" system of forced military prostitution allowed for a range of abuses, such as sexual violence including gang rape and forced abortions, in what has been described as "one of the largest cases of human trafficking in the 20th century."
Many of these women continue to suffer the consequences of these abuses and are courageously speaking out about their experiences and campaigning for justice. Pressure is mounting on Japan as a range of governments across the world have passed resolutions calling for justice for "comfort women".
Resolutions have been passed in the USA, Netherlands, Canada and the European Parliament for the Government of Japan to:
- accept full responsibility for the abuses of "comfort women"
- officially apologize for the crimes committed against the women
- provide adequate and effective compensation
The Government of the Philippines is currently considering passing a resolution that has particular significance because of the number of Filipino women who were enslaved by the Japanese Imperial Army.