A question I am often asked is: why didn’t the ‘comfort women’ come forward sooner? The answer is multifaceted and deeply rooted in historical Korean culture, society, economics, politics, and personal trauma. In modern times, we often have no concept of the inequality women endured in patriarchal societies—especially one that valued women’s purity over their survival. Women’s experiences of war are often silenced because to come forward would mean to endure the shame their society casts upon victims of war rape. To admit to being ‘impure’ would devalue a woman’s moral standing within her community and diminish the weight of her testimony about her lived experience. When she is devalued, she becomes less, and her voice can be silenced. Today, the Japanese government still wants the world to believe the ‘comfort women’ chose to be military prostitutes. After nearly twenty-eight years of advocating for justice for their violated human rights against military war rape, no one has been held accountable for the atrocities committed against the ‘comfort women’. They told their stories, yet nothing has changed.
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