Tag Archives: Comfort Women

“Comfort Woman” Ellen van der Ploeg passed away

Ellen van der Ploeg

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.

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Film Documentary on “Comfort Women” awarded prize at BMFF

The film documentary “Because we were beautiful” by Frank van Osch was awarded the prize for “Best Documentary” at the Big Muddy Film Festival,

Filmmaker Frank van Osch traveled through Indonesia where he searched for former “comfort women”, together with photographer Jan Banning (World Press Photo Award 2004) and journalist Hilde Janssen. During the Second World War these women were forced to carry out sexual activities in military brothels, encampments and Japanese barracks.

The film was broadcast on Dutch national television, August 15, 2010.

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Documentary “BECAUSE WE WERE BEAUTIFUL” at film festival in USA

The film documentary “Because we were beautiful”, about Indonesian Comfort Women (and our search for them) will be shown at the Big Muddy Film Festival, February 18-27, 2011 at the Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, IL (USA). It was made by by Frank van Osch and broadcast on Dutch national television, August 15, 2010.

Van Osch and his team accompanied Hilde Janssen and me during part of the search for these women. Apart from the film, this project resulted in the (Dutch language) text book “Schaamte en onschuld” (ISBN: 9789046807132) and the bilingual photo book “Comfort Women/Troostmeisjes“.

Comfort Woman – “Because we were Beautiful” (Vimeo)
Troostmeisjes – “Omdat wij mooi waren” (Vimeo)

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“Zilveren Camera” Awards

January 23, the outcome of the annual Awards for best Dutch journalistic photo, the “Zilveren Camera” (Silver Camera) was announced. One of the portraits from the “Comfort Women” series, that of Ibu Wainem (“Comfort Women” book cover) has been awarded best single portrait (2010).

Also, a selection of photos from my series on the reconstruction of the Rijksmuseum, has been nominated in the category Arts, Culture and Entertainment Series.

More information:

Zilveren Camera (Winnaar 2010 Portretten Enkel)
Zilveren Camera (Winnaar 2010 Kunst, cultuur en entertainment Serie)

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Comfort Women publication in DN Magasinet, Norway

After publications in magazines such as NRC Magazine (The Netherlands), Hotshoe International (UK/USA), Le Courrier International (France), Helsingin Sanomat (Finland) and Marie-Claire Indonesia, the Norwegian DN Magasinet also published the Comfort Women series, in early December.

Norwegian DN Magasinet Website

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