Publisher: Ipso Facto/Seltmann+Söhne, 2010
104 pages, softcover, 235 mm x 320 mm
18 photographs + 8 war posters
Raping women seems to be a normal byproduct of wars. During World War II, the Japanese military
even set up a system for sex slavery: Tens of thousands of “comfort women” in Asia were forced into
prostitution at military brothels. In addition, many girls were abused sexually in railroad wagons,
factory warehouses or night after night at home. Most of these women have suffered physical and
emotional consequences ever since.
Jan Banning and Hilde Janssen visited Indonesian women who during the war were victims of
forced sexual labor. In this book, 18 of them break the persistent taboo against speaking out on
the issue. Showing them in combination with Japanese war posters, the book presents male and
female sides of war, and propaganda versus reality. Short narratives depict the fate of these and
other former comfort women, painting a gripping picture of this hidden history.
Hilde Janssen (b. 1959) is a journalist and anthropologist. For the past 15 years, she has lived
and worked in Asia. From her base in Jakarta, Janssen traveled the Indonesian archipelago for
two years searching for comfort women.
The project Comfort Women and the exhibition by the same name have been made possible with financial support from the Mondriaan Fund and the V-Fonds. Additional support for this publication was provided by the Fonds BKVB, Foundation Sem Presser Archief and the NLPVF.
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