- The ‘comfort women’ system was started by the Japanese before and during World War II
- Little girls and women were forced into military brothels known as “comfort station”
- The Chinese government has not done enough in respect to this issue as compared to its South Korean counterpart
New Delhi, July 22, 2017: There exists an empty building on Ganging road with window frames painted red and it is one of the pre-world war II buildings in Shanghai. Sources reveal, it was once a military brothel and accommodates dark memories. It is amongst the comfort stations where a wide sexual slavery system was started by the Japanese for their armed forces during and before the time of world war II.
There were once more than 150 comfort stations in Shanghai alone, but these buildings are disappearing due to rapid development, demolishing historical remains.
Only a handful of these comfort women are still alive and they do not receive any assistance from the government. These women are 90-year-olds, covered with scars and some of them do not even have any family or children. An estimated 200,000 women, many of them mere girls from Asian countries are believed to have been forcefully employed in these Japanese brothels during the time of World War II.
The building on Ganging road was scheduled to be renovated but was rescued by the efforts of a historian called Su Whiling who highlighted the building’s history and the Chinese media supported him. He wanted to initiate a movement in order to put the suffering of those comfort women on spotlight but unfortunately, he was prohibited from publishing his research by the authorities when he first studied the matter in the 1990s.
The government of China has not fully addressed this human rights issue in order to preserve good relations with the Japanese. As compared to South Korea, China has certainly not done enough regarding this issue. Su alone raises funds for the 17 known survivors who were dishonored and boycotted and did not receive any kind of aid from the government.
It was in the 1990s that the Japanese government finally accepted that the comfort women system actually existed and thereafter it has apologized and offered these women compensation. Under the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping, the issue has received some attention according to the experts.
A “comfort station” located in Nanjing, 300 kilometers west of Shanghai was transformed into a museum and was inaugurated in December 2015. Su was even allowed to upgrade display of his records and findings into a museum which opened on his university campus in October. Just outside that building, a statue of two comfort women was unveiled. The statue represents Chinese and Korean comfort women. The documents on comfort women have been made available and there can be seen an international effort to include these findings in the UNESCO International Memory of The World Register.
Su, in his statement, said that the first ever comfort station in the world has not been fully protected and in order to avoid this regrettable situation, we need to work hard.
– prepared by Harsimran Kaur of NewsGram. Twitter @Hkaur1025