The International Women’s Alliance and all its allied organizations call on women of the world to commemorate August 14, the end of World War II, with renewed energy and commitment to fight imperialist aggression and war. We call on all justice and peace loving women and people around the world to especially honor the women victims of Japanese military sexual slavery who bravely came out and brought light to the systemic use of sexual violence as a tool of war.
World War II was an imperialist war to re-divide the world among imperialist powers as an attempt to prevent the collapse of the capitalist system. It brought devastation to the lives of millions of people, including those who were trafficked and forced to work as slaves in war production. Many of the victims were women from Korea, Philippines, China, Indonesia, and the Netherlands whose lives were threatened, abducted and forced to serve as sexual slaves to the Japanese imperial army, and commonly referred to as “comfort women”.
Decades after the war and even after they first publicly spoke of their harrowing experience, these women still cry out for justice. For them, justice means a recognition from the Japanese government as well as their own respective governments. As in the case of the Philippines, these women demand an official public apology from Japan, and compensation to atone for their suffering. Unfortunately, many of them have died without seeing justice. And with the recent moves of Japan to strengthen its military forces by removing any pretense of “peace” in its constitution, history is bound to repeat itself.
Beyond the demand for justice for what was done to them, many comfort women have joined the call against imperialist wars of aggression as these create generations of future comfort women. Until now, in many parts of the world, rape is still used as a tool to subjugate, intimidate, humiliate, dominate, and instill fear among a population.
As imperialist rivalry heightens, so do the attacks on women and their communities. The imperialist US army and the CIA, according to studies, have systematically used rape and torture to humiliate captives in their “terrorist war”. In Congo, Afghanistan, Rwanda, Iraq, Syria, and many other countries, mass rape of women, abduction and forced marriage are used to sow terror and fear among the population. The attacks against ethnic minority groups such as the Rohingyans, have galvanized the concrete and systemic use of rape among state military forces to kill ethnic populations. So called “peace keeping forces” have been found guilty of rape and other forms of sexual assault and violence against women in areas of conflict where they were deployed.
With the economic crisis worsening and the imposition of neo-liberal policies in many countries creating more chaos and devastation, we see more and more wars of aggression for economic and political dominance. With the rising fascism, tyranny, racism, and misogyny, even the international laws, conventions, and institutions that are supposed to prevent the use of sexual violence against women in armed conflict and to protect women from such, prove to be useless or are being eroded.
The grave situation that women face also gives rise to many courageous women who stand for their rights against these imperialist attacks. Like the comfort women, we take inspiration from the Yazidi women, from women in Africa, Middle East, and many parts of the world who are publicly telling their stories, who demand justice, and educate the public about how capitalist greed and wars are creating generations and generations of sexual slaves. Many of them, despite possible public humiliation and threats to their lives, are taking a stand to stop military sexual slavery and joining movements around the world to end imperialist wars of aggression.
As we honor these women, and all those who fought against tyranny and fascism during WWII and beyond, we enjoin IWA member organizations and allies to actively participate in actions, commemorative activities on August 14 in their countries and communities.
No to another generation of comfort women!
End the use of sexual violence in war and conflict!
End imperialist wars of aggression!