jueves, febrero 23, 2006

Oral history, truth, consequence… and a request for Japan to be denied a seat on the UN Security Council 

Witnessing the stories of elders who in their youth were sexually abused was tender, cathartic and consequential. It confirms my belief that one must denounce violence… and that is the most significant act of liberation. It is difficult to have the strength and the balance to revisit pain, but these women did, these wise elders…

Yesterday I listened to a program at Westfield State College, and I watched, while quietly meditating about what they were saying, and the meaning of their act of describing the abuse bestowed to them by the military: “Former "Comfort Women" Demand Justice: Survivors of sexual slavery under the Japanese military from 1932-1945”

A very tender group of women lead the activity in a full banquet room with the presence of the College’s President who was there without any noticeable hurry. She was carefully hearing and supporting the speakers. I was impressed by a short video produced for the campaign and shown in five gigantic screens.

Short introductions from leaders lead to the genuine accounts from two women. They spoke about being held captive at a young age and exploited sexually. The power of their disclosure over silence and denial was both evident and painful. And I wondered about the purpose and consequence of their process. Here were two elders who survived brutal sexual attacks at a tender early age. Their vulnerability and questioning about the reason for their abuse was deeply moving. There is no sense to violence and we are each responsible to act whenever we witness it.

At the end of the activity, one of the speakers came close to me, and in our interchange added, “I love you”… I smiled and gave her a hug… telling her the same. They are a few of the survivors from about 200,000 women who where brutally captive by the Japanese forces in Korea as sexual slaves.

The Korean Council has been demanding the Japanese government the following:
1. to admit the crime of sexual slavery for the Japanese Army
2. to investigate the crimes of military sexual slavery
3. to make an official apology
4. to pay legal reparation to the victims
5. to punish those who are responsible for the crime
6. to build a memorial museum
7. to correctly record in the Japanese history textbooks.

The roles of women in sexual slavery, and in the sex industry are two completely different issues -mostly related to choice. We must carefully focus on this event and how it is resolved to capture the tendency to deny civilization the wisdom from history.

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