While in Kampala, Uganda, I received the news that Ellen van der Ploeg (b. January 14, 1923, in The Hague, NL) has passed away on February 6, 2013 (in Oss, NL). She was one of the very few of the 200-400 Dutch Comfort Women who broke the taboo and publicly discussed her experiences during WWII: in 1944, she was forced to serve as a prostitute in a Japanese military brothel for three months.
During its colonial and wartime occupation of Asia and the Pacific Islands from the 1930s through World War II, the Japanese military officially commissioned the acquisition of an estimated 200,000 young girls (sometimes only 10 or 11 years old) for sexual slavery. Amnesty International described it as “one of the largest cases of human trafficking in the 20th century.”
The Japanese Government has always refused to disclose the full extent of this sexual slavery system, and several prime ministers have officially denied government involvement.
Ellen, you were a brave and fascinating woman! Hormat!
For more on the comfort women, see here or here, or read, in Dutch, here. For a fragment from Frank van Osch’s documentary movie about comfort women, click here.
- Jan Banning
May 4th 1954, Almelo
Dutch photographer and artist. Banning was born in the Netherlands from Dutch-East-Indies parents. He studied social and economic history at the Radboud University Nijmegen, and has been working as a photographer since 1981. A central theme of Banning's practice is state power, having produced series about the long-term consequences of war and the world of government bureaucracy.