The Comfort Women Essay Research Paper The

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The Comfort Women Essay, Research Paper The Comfort Women Some jokingly say that prostitution is the oldest profession , but one can hardly laugh about the plight of thousands of women who have resorted to this disturbing practice. Although many women sell their bodies by choice, history shows that for centuries, governments and conquering armies have used their power to force women into prostitution to fit its needs. Well into the twentieth century, the practice continued in countries around the world including China, The Philippines, but chiefly in Japan. During and before the start of World War Two, the Japanese government tightly controlled an efficient but brutal system of prostitution around the country. Those in control dubbed the reluctant prostitutes comfort women ,

a title that ate away slowly at the souls of those who possessed it. Japan called upon these women not only to prostitute them-selves, but perform difficult and dangerous missions to the front lines when a regiment s supply of men wavered. The presence of these women and the establishment of comfort stations in Japan s vast empire not only effected the lives of the women involved, but the outcome of the war itself. Within the modern city of Tokyo, old buildings painted with red and gold lettering that brag of beautiful women and good food remind one of its name during the 18th century, The Floating World . Known for its abundance of brothels, travelers refereed to it as the nightless city – an international hub for legalized prostitution. In 1872, the Japanese government

followed the example set by the ancient Romans, devising a lucrative system in which different states controlled the number of brothels within the city and the number of girls. The women were licensed and received mandatory medical exams before allowed to work. The brothels put different the prostitutes into different classes according to education, ethnic background and beauty. The more educated prostitutes were called Geishas and often played musical instruments to entertain customers. At first, local governments of neighboring towns gave families the option of volunteering their daughters in return for the assurance of a loan or by offering to erase debts. In many cases, the girls went willingly in hopes to provide for their families and make a better life for themselves.

Soon, however, the number of willing girls dropped and the government or local police began to raid villages, threatening to burn houses and fields of the girls did not comply. With the start of the war, the brothel business still boomed and at first the military didn t consider the option of establishing their own brothels, until 233 rapes occurred on one night in Shanghai in 1932. The blame of the rapes rested upon the shoulders of the Japanese military. In response to a city- wide outcry, military officials soon found a solution that hardly seemed better than the problem. Within a month the military constructed the first military controlled comfort station in Shanghai. Japan justified the building of more comfort stations around its empire by claiming that such stations

reduced venereal diseases and rape. This claim did little to console the many women who found themselves being forced to service twenty to forty men daily under the watchful eye of armed guards at such stations. In addition to the claims, the Japanese believed that sex before battle prevented injury, and depravation of it made one accident prone and forgetful. Such superstitions spurred even more officials in favor of the practice; and ordered more stations to be built according to the number of troops in the area. In some cases, the number of stations surpassed that of local grocery stores. By the end of the war, over 1000 stations existed. A former officer of the Japanese military recalls how shipments of women to stations arrived before weaponry and food supplies, causing a