On any given Friday or Saturday night, Korean women prostitutes hang out outside club doors soliciting GIs. Korean women stroll up and down Hooker Hill, approaching young GIs and asking them, Lady?? After asking the women how much and how old, they follow the Korean girls up the hill and down an alley.
While interviewing a GI friend stationed in Osan, Korea, this is an excerpt of his short story about military prostitution in Korea. This not only happens in Korea, but all over the world where military bases are located. This type of prostitution has a history that is traced back to the 1900 s and not many people are aware of it. Following are the facts and history of this horrid trend:
The Ordinance for the National Labor Service Corps that was issued in November of 1941, opened the door for them to use women between 14 and 24 years old for up to 30 days a year. Today in South Korea, ianfu also known as military comfort women, is an expression for those women who were forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military. Since the 1910 s Korean women had always been preyed upon, so they could be sold to Japanese brothels. The ianfu system grew from this background, and the state and the military voluntarily joined in for the pursuit and control of these women. The total number of ianfu was estimated at 100,000 to 200,000, and almost 80% of them were believed to be Korean.
The ianfu system was believed to have been set up after the Shanghai incident in January 1932. It was a small military conflict between Japan and China after Japans invasion of Manchuria. During this conflict, many cases of rape of local women by Japanese soldiers were reported. This made Lieutenant General Yasuji Okamura to request the Governor of Nagasaki to send some women to comfort their soldiers. After the ianfus arrived, their were no more reported cases of rape. Because of this, troops nowadays almost always bring a group of ianfu with them. The military calculated the number of ianfu needed and sought out Korean women in their late teens or twenties, convincing them that they would be taking care of soldiers.
The management of military brothels was handled by the military. Non-military members were not allowed to use these brothels. Military surgeons conducted the necessary periodic medical examinations of ianfu for venereal diseases, and condoms were giving to soldiers by the military to stop the spreading of venereal diseases. At these brothels, rules by the military were posted. The military provided food and medical needs and even sent them letters of gratitude. The following is an example set of rules for brothels made by the military:
1. Military brothels do not admit anyone other than Army soldiers and gonzukus and visitors are required to show their brothel permit.
2. Visitors must pay service charges at the reception counter and in return receive and entrance ticket and a condom.
3. Service charges are as follows: 2.00 yen for non-commissioned officers, soldiers, and civilian employees.
4. Those having bought a ticket can enter a designated room, with a time limit of 30 minutes.
5. The ticket should be handed to the ianfu upon entering the room.
6. When finished, leave the room quickly.
7. Those violating rules or disturbing military morals will be forced to leave.
8. Do not touch ianfu without a condom The Headquarter of the East Commissariat.
Looking at these rules, it indicates that the military was in no doubt involved in the management of these horrible brothels.
China, Southeast Asia, the South Seas Islands, and Japan,
everywhere the Japanese military went, the military brothels followed. When the war was eventually turned against Japan and the troops were forced to leave, some ianfu were left behind, some were forced to fight with soldiers until they died, and others were killed by the Japanese military.
It is undeniable that the Japanese military managed these
brothels, not the troops individually, but the army as a whole collected the ianfu to deal with the sexual needs of soldiers, and that the army ruined the dignity of the ianfu as women as well as human beings. They inflicted incurable pains on them, exposed them to venereal diseases, and endangered their health. Eventually, as these ianfus became a burden, they were either abandoned or disposed of as if they were nothing.
After explaining how these women were forced into sexual slavery and the history behind it, the following is my analysis and opinions on this matter. These women were treated not as human beings but as public toilets. They were sometimes forced to service as many as a hundred soldiers a day. About 100,000 to 200,000 women s self esteem, dignity, personality, and ethnic pride were severely wounded through long and daily abuse.
Reading all this, many questions come to mind with anger, such as: Why has this all been kept in secrecy until recently? or How can the military, a strong form of government, let this happen to women? Currently there is no answer to these, but hopefully by writing this paper, it will educate more people about this issue, which is the first step in anything. These are problems limited only to women of less powerful countries. Sexual assaults GIs make against women is a clear violation of human rights. Being assaulted by a group of men called soldiers is an unspoken terror that is inflicted upon us women. The primary purpose of the military is to destruct and kill the bad, but all they were really doing was creating evil.
Being raped is a woman s worst nightmare. It invades our body, mind and soul leaving us feeling used and worthless. Women often put the blame on themselves, maybe for dressing too tight or too short, or for acting promiscuous, but in reality it has nothing to do with the way women act. The offender holds all blame. In reading one of the articles called, Violation of Human Rights against Korean Women and Children by the United States Forces in Korea, it reads To evade problems, Japanese claim that they have given comfort women military scrip s, also known as U.S dollars or PX goods during War II We must look at this as an exploitation of women s sex; in other words, it is offenders sly intention to transform an act of rape to that of prostitution and pass over their responsibilities to victimized women. Is the giving of money or gifts suppose to lessen the pain? The soldiers are defending themselves by putting the blame on the victimized women, resulting in the woman feeling guilty. I can recall discussing this topic in section and talking about how many times the offender uses this strategy in protecting himself from the consequences.
What I want to talk about is the effect that this type of prostitution has on women, and in ways that women and children can be trapped in it, in fact are often prepared for it as children. Back during the Korean War when Korean women were being used as ianfu, the women eventually had children from these soldiers. These children, made out of wedlock, were raised in this environment and soon enough became the norm. When the child reached the age of 15, she was often taken from her family to join a group of soldiers to serve as an ianfu. If the child happened to be a male, he was subject to be drafted into the military and use women for prostitution, it was an ongoing cycle. The everyday life of a prostitute is probably distant for many of us. Even our imagination could not make us feel the disgusting events that these women have suffered. It is like this: Negotiate a price with the stranger. Agree to it. Pull down pants. Come and take me until they re done. Finished. Next Please. It becomes too ugly to take it in.
We all know that this is a male dominated world. It stems from history, issues such as military prostitution and women slavery all indicate that the dominant gender is man. Although women have more rights than they did a century ago, women are still constantly struggling to find their place either in the home or work force. With these type of problems still occurring, discrimination against women will not end.
Male dominance is a political system. Money is in no doubt directly tied to gender. Many of the Korean women used as prostitutes were from streets and poor families trying to find jobs that would feed their family. So when the military offered them a job as care takers of soldiers, they immediate jumped at the opportunity. It is assumed that women are not suppose to have money, because when women have money, then women can make choices. One of these choices that women can make is not to be with men. If the women make the choice not to be with men, then men will be deprived of the sex that men feel they have the right to. This is the foundation of male dominance.
In conclusion, this paper has raised many issues involving women, especially in the military. When I received this research paper as my final paper for my Women s Studies class, I began to think about all the options that I could write about. Topics such as; abortion, eating disorders, sexual violence, incest, and even that of prostitution, but I wanted it to have more of a twist. I remember talking to one of my good friends who is an enlisted officer in the USAF, who in stationed Korea and he told me about what GIs did to entertain themselves. Back to the story in the beginning, I decided to expand on it because I believe that many people do not know that this goes on. I can not even remotely describe how in disbelief I was when I did more research. I came across material that I would never know existed. In doing this research paper, I hope to educate more women about this type of prostitution and raise awareness that the military is involved. Women should not be treated as objects, and more like human beings.