Comfort Women, or “jugun ianfu” in Japanese, is the name used when referring to the more than 200,000 women forced into prostitution by the Japanese military during World War II. Working in military brothels, known as Comfort Stations, the practice represents a government sanctioned from/of sexual slavery.
The exact number of women involved is still being researched and remains a politically charged topic throughout Japan and the rest of Asia, where young women from countries under Japanese Imperial control were abducted from their homes to fill the brothels. In some cases, women were also recruited with offers of work in the military. Many of these military brothels were run by private agents and supervised by the Japanese Army. Some Japanese historians have argued that the Imperial Japanese Army were directly involved in coercing, deceiving, luring, and abducting females; some as young as eleven years of age.
It is estimated that only 25 percent of the comfort women survived, and that most were unable to have children as a consequence of the multiple rapes they suffered or the diseases that they contracted.
Artist Chang-Jin Lee‘s COMFORT WOMEN WANTED project honored the memory of these 200,000 young women, who were systematically exploited as sex slaves, and attempted to increase awareness of sexual violence against women during this time. Organized on a scale not before seen in modern history, the event documented herewith was the largest instance of human trafficking in the 20th century, yet it has gone largely unacknowledged.
Traveling throughout Asia in 2008 and 2009, Chang-Jin met with a number of Comfort Women survivors to listen and record their stories. She also interviewed a former Japanese soldier, who served during the war and witnessed the comfort women system first hand.
This virtual exhibition features a selection of her photo documentation and audio from the artist’s research and travels abroad.