For the first time in history, claims of forced servitude and rape made by more than 200,000 women during World War II in Japan are heard before a symbolic court lead by Gabrielle Kirk McDonald, former president of International War Crimes Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. Women from North and South Korea, China, Taiwan, Indonesia, the Philippines and East Timor gathered in Tokyo to demand an official apology and compensation from the Japanese government for its system of using “comfort women” to serve the Japanese Imperial Army. “Comfort Women” survivors told stories during the tribunal of being abducted as early as age 15, beaten, harassed and forced to have sexual intercourse with up to 20 men a day. Testimonies from the survivors included reports that many women were left without any money, no transportation home and ostracized from their communities after Japan’s defeat in World War II. Today, there are approximately 1,988 survivors of the comfort system with 90 percent of whom suffering from physical and psychological damage.
The last stage of the Tokyo Tribunal ends today with a public hearing involving testimonies from 14 women in areas, including Afghanistan, Mexico and Sierra Leone, where recent war crimes were committed against women.