Enforced Prostitution 

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Japanese enforced prostitution was not the first of its kind, but rather the first to pull off military rape to such a high scale. Throughout history there have been an unimaginable amount of instances of sexual slavery for armies, even dating back to the Roman Empire days. For this reason, Japan did not think of this system as unique and different, but instead a logical assumption. Japan saw prostitution, also known as geisha, as an industry with regulations, provisions, and licenses.

Professionalized sexual services had been normalized in Japan for centuries before comfort women even existed. Since Japan was so well organized and accepting of the industry of prostitution, the idea that there should be an organized prostitution brothel for the Japanese Armed Forces seemed rational and expected. Centuries of supported gender roles and expectations have taught men to believe that the female specifies is only useful for certain tasks such as: housekeeping, taking care of the children, and sex to please the man.

The first comfort station was installed in Shanghai in 1932 under direct Japanese military control. The name ‘comfort women’ is derived from its translation of the Japanese euphemism ianfu and the similar Korean term wianbu. Ianfu is a euphemism for shōfu whose meaning is prostitute(s). The idea came about after two hundreds and twenty three reported rape cases by Japanese troops had occurred and the general wanted a more structured way of “protecting” women from his troops needs.

Military prostitution, also considered rape if not consented, became the golden idea during this war. The military hired agents “to obtain as many women as they could by the end of 1937.” Luring Women became a profession and necessity. Comfort stations, formally known as a “recreation centre”, consisted of small rooms, like huts, with fences and supervisors always on duty. The women were given standard army rations and were sent to a prototype versions of normal stations. Depending on the woman’s ethnic origins, some were treated as more valuable such as Japanese women: “ Japanese prostitutes were more likely to be assigned to the safer base areas.” All evidence such as pictures and documents were diminished prevent viable sources and war crime trials.

The idea that men have the necessity to relieve their urges explains why the government allowed this torture on women. It goes back to the beginning of time to have the female do anything they can to satisfy the men. It was seen as long ago as the Roman empire where women provided sex all hours of everyday and other household needs to receive a small bit of recognition of the male species. Does the past experiences and expectations make it normalized? Even in the 16th century the Spanish Duke of Alva’s army had twelve hundred captured sex slaves to please the army.

Women were seen as objects for the mans sexual “needs” and expendable which diminishes their existence. Women were are also seen as the “thing” that controlled the man by preventing other offenses, but rape of these women can be considered an offense as well if not truly consented. A man could beat and mistreat a woman, but scared for her life and reputation she cannot express her pain. The health of these women were put at risk every day and the government at the same disapproved of publishing books on birth control. The women’s bodies were being taken control of and the government supported it.

The only protection of health for the women were rare check ups, but the men received distinctive directions and safety precautions: “‘Use a condom – danger of venereal disease!’ ‘Memorize your partners registration number!’ ‘Disinfect after intercourse!’” It is as if the women are puppies in the pet shop. The women were forced to sign consent declarations which made rape allowed in the minds of the torturers.

In Armed Forces superstitions were linked to sex. They believed it prevent injury, provided good luck, and caused keen reflexes and attention. Sex was seen as a stress reducer and it made the forces feel “liberated.” It was said that “ a visit to a comfort station was no doubt the only form of relief” and “It was their ‘oasis.’” Women felt the absolute need to satisfy the man and men felt the absolute need to assimilate into the army society by visiting the comfort stations. If the soldier refused a comfort station visit it was seen as despicable and homosexual and other soldiers would sometimes force it on them. The psychology of the male and female species were forever tainted.

One woman, Yo Bok Sil, remembers servicing thirty to forty men daily, her friends committing suicide, and being injured by an exploding shell. She was forced to resume sexual activity before healing. She makes interesting point when discussing Japanese troops seizing women from other countries: “ She wonders why the Japanese did not similarly draft Japanese women for such service, and how they would feel if some other nation had seized their own women.” Villages were forced to produce “suitable volunteers” for comfort stations, most likely and more attractive women.

In addition, married women wear targets so women would married quickly, whomever they could find and end up eventually divorced. In addition, the education system was used to find younger girls. Parents were “required to affix their seals to a statement of willingness to comply with the National General Mobilization Ordinance.” The National General Mobilization Law gave the government control over civilian organizations such as: pricing, news medias, certain industries and specifically labor unions. The comfort system was considered part of the labor unions.

The comparison of Japanese comfort women to other nationalities is evident based on the amount of money, performance and rewards. Japanese women were more valuable and in result, received special treatment. In addition, they sympathized for the men raping them because in their minds the men may die at any moment. Some comfort systems functioned as “collective marriages”, attachments to certain officers, or a men’s amount of brutality. The expectations for these women were extremely high especially right after luring occurred.

That captures would reward the women with special clothing and accessories before entering the stations to trick them into believing they were going to have a better life now. Innocent girls who are virgins did not understand the difference between helping the soldiers and “helping” the soldiers. The women were taught how to use different types of based on age, right, and experience. They would take a “leisurely approach to older men”, “praise the sexual technique of officers”, provide suggestions and give a “more romantic approach to young and unsophisticated soldiers.”

The women were seen as objects. They did not have to touch nor were they touched. Men did not care about foreplay or the desire for them to strip naked. They were just a way for men to erect and release. Luckily the women had each other as companions and allies. Women refuse service if the man was a regular to another woman. The woman would get attached to a favorite soldier and if that man wanted to use another company and the woman sent him back to her friend has followed into their sisterhood code. In rare occurrences a bond between a comfort woman and servicemen would occur causing relationships, special privileges, and heartbreak. Having other females they could connect to helped them survive this torture.

The Japanese troops needed to follow certain regulations, pay for visits to comfort stations, and beware of the spread of diseases through the army. The stigma around diseases affected both the men and the women. Depending on the level of care and professionality of the doctors, most women either were exiled, beaten, or forced to rest. The worst “disease” was pregnancy amongst the women. They would be forced to kill their babies by officials shoving pills down their throats or obstructing the uterus to cause a miscarriage or continue service while pregnant. In some cases, the women would have the babies and then give it to a family in the country they were occupied in to protect the child.

If pregnant the women had a hard time living with the fact that they would never know the child’s father. They hated knowing it happened from someone evil and that their child would share the same DNA as man who hurt her. The comfort women did not have a choice on how they were treated for illnesses. In addition, diseases such as venereal disease affected men, diminishing their pride and identities. In some cases the men were beaten and exiled as well. Ethnicity, raking bases, and level hospitality affected how treatment was provided and the women’s urge to continue service.

Women received money for their service, but depending on the situation of the women, the money disappeared before their eyes. The army refused to provide them with all the money they earned and the women had to pay for necessary supplies which used up their money. If the women were Japanese their fees were higher: “much more significantly they reflect the intense Japanese concern with hierarchy.”Although there was not a huge difference in price, when added up there is an obvious evidence of higher prices.

In addition, the amount of time the women spent in the brothels depended on the circumstances and sometimes ethnicity as well. For instance, Dutch Women records state that it took three months for them to return home to their families, but it would never be the same as before. The sadistic behavior of these men will forever be engraved in these women’s minds, souls and bodies. Lasting physical, mental, and emotional damages.

Although Japan was in charge of the entire system, ironically they did not have comfort stations of their own. Due to licensed prostitution which had many guidelines in order, there was less of a need for comfort stations. In addition, the men needing comfort the most were fighting the war in other foreign lands. The places with comfort systems were the Ryukyu and Bonin Islands, Taiwan, the Pacific Islands, Rabaul, the Philippians, Singapore and Malaya, Burma, and Indonesia.

All of the places above treated comfort women differently. They had different pay, amount of men serviced daily, necessities given, and severity of abuse. A generic comfort system had a lottery system in which the men were assigned a woman based on the number they were given. Every woman had an ID code and the women were chosen at random usually for the troops. The system is designed to make a woman feel like objects and then truly believe they are.

Life after the war for these women would never be the same. At the closing of the war the men were tempted to visit the comfort stations each night because of his impending death convincing him to leave with no regrets or sperm apparently. Mass suicide among the trips were common as they would rather die than succumb to American abduction: “ and honorable death is better than a dishonorable life.” In many circumstances, the comfort women were murdered violently to prevent collaboration with the Americans.

The troops who killed them were convinced they were embarrassments to Japan and that he was “saving” them. For example, a high ranking official used an automatic rifle and trapped the women in a room and murdered them all. Some women were able to escape, but suffered due to no food or supplies. They even resorted to cannibalism. Although killing and suicide of the comfort women was common, abandonment was seen more regularly. They were shunned from their families, friends, jobs, and a life they had once hoped for: “In a society dominated by patriarchal views of chastity and morality, and lack of openness about sex, the shame of the whole repugnant experience silenced many women.”

Being raped makes a woman a defiled woman in Asia causing humility and grief among the women used in comfort stations. It made them feel it was their faults. Hiding from their past affecting their mental stability. Most women were unable to bear child and were traumatized causing sex to be frightening. Their lives are forever changed. Although compensation may help their futures, their pain and suffering will never go away.

Recently public announcements about Japan’s horrific actions against women during the war have sparked a level of neglect by Japanese leaders. It took extremely long for women to speak out. Knowledge of the comfort system was more widely spread resulting in repercussions for “‘spreading harmful rumors’” such as imprisonment. There is such a high level of male domination felt scared that they would have not been believed. All of the information about comfort women and stations are to be sealed until 2025 which brings up the question if they are holding it until the women have died.

When comfort women began speaking out a whole feminist movement arose in the 1980s in search of “sexual freedom and self-determination.” Women had been constantly seen as sexual objects to men and it was praised and welcomed in Japan. For example, sex tours in Japan bring in a lot of revenue but treated women horribly. The men blame it on sexual urge and masculinity when truthfully men are immature, controlling people with no respect for women in that time period. Historians have decided to shy away from this specific topic due to the secrecy and controversy around it: “Although the institution of military prostitution was universal, few historians have chosen to deal with it.” Meaning that the story is there, if they look for it; they would find it.

Cite this paper

Enforced Prostitution . (2021, Nov 26). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/enforced-prostitution/

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