Women This Week: Last of Taiwan’s Known “Comfort Women” Passes Away
Thousand Endured Sexual Slavery by Imperial Japan
The last known Taiwanese “comfort woman” who survived sexual slavery during Japanese occupation has passed away at the age of ninety-two. An estimated 200,000 women were forced to work in Imperial Japan’s army brothels between 1932 and 1945. The majority of the women were from South Korea, but there were also victims from China, Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, and Vietnam. In Taiwan alone, only sixty women have come forward as survivors, out of the estimated two thousand women and girls who were enslaved during Japan’s occupation. While the Japanese government has acknowledged these atrocities, critics charge that officials have minimized their role and responsibility by claiming that the women were recruited by civilians in commercially operated brothels. The Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation has facilitated the recognition of these women since 1992. "We will continue to keep records of the comfort women and hope the truth about the sexual violence does not disappear with their deaths," the foundation said in a statement.
Women Abducted by Separatists in Cameroon
More than thirty women have been abducted by separatist rebels in the Northwestern village of Babanki, Cameroon. The women were arrested for protesting illegal taxes imposed on them by the separatists, who have been forcing men, women, and children to submit monthly payments, with additional taxes for couples before marriage and a thousand-dollar charge to bury relatives. Simon Emil Mooh, the top official in the area, said, “we have reliable information that 10 of the women, who are basically farmers and merchants, were tortured with guns and machetes.” Separatist leader Capo Daniel told the Associated Press that the women were being punished for allowing themselves to be manipulated by Cameroon’s government. The conflict has been ongoing since 2017, when English-speaking separatists rebelled against the French-speaking majority, with the goal of setting up an independent, English-speaking state. More than six thousand people have been killed and over 760,000 people have been displaced. The Cameroon military will be deploying troops to free the abducted women.
Iranian Female Political Prisoners Protest Executions
A group of female political prisoners in Tehran, Iran is protesting the state’s increasing usage of the death penalty. These women, many well-known for their activism, issued statements condemning the recent executions of three protestors. Golrokh Ebrahimi Iraee, a prisoner, said: "The female political prisoners of Evin Prison held a ceremony on Saturday [May 20] in the women's ward courtyard to protest the recent executions, including the execution of two people in Arak Prison on charges of blasphemy, and the three recent executions in Isfahan." So far, Iranian authorities have executed at least seven protestors. However, the Iran Human Rights group has calculated the execution of at least 279 people—with over ninety taking place in the last three weeks alone—making May the bloodiest month in the last five years.