“Why should we be surprised that there are still victims of sex trafficking today when justice has yet to be served for these women, who we consider as among the first cases of trafficked women?” – Monique Wilson, performing artist and global director of One Billion Rising
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA — Two days before the One Billion Rising for Justice, comfort women held a dance protest action in front of the Japanese Embassy along Roxas Boulevard in Pasay City to call on the Japanese government to acknowledge its atrocities during World War II.
“Twenty two years since the first victim of Japanese war sex slavery came out, the lolas have yet to achieve justice,” Rechilda Extremadura, executive director of Lila Pilipinas, an organization of Filipino comfort women, said, “Thus we need to maximize every opportunity to push the Japanese government to recognize, acknowledge and admit accountability over these atrocities against Filipino women.”
The dance-protest is part of the One Billion Rising for Justice, a global movement against violence against women. There would be 207 countries participating in the V-Day activists-led campaign.
On Feb. 14, a protest action would be held at 10 a.m. at Mendiola to call for justice for state-instigated violence against women, Wilson said. It would be followed by a cultural protest at the University of the Philippines-Diliman at around 4:00 p.m.
“Why should we be surprised that there are still victims of sex trafficking today when justice has yet to be served for these women, who we consider as among the first cases of trafficked women?” Monique Wilson, global director of One Billion Rising, told reporters.
Gabriela Women’s Party Luz Ilagan said in a previous Bulatlat.com report that there are about 60,000 to 200,000 sex slaves all over Asia who survived the ordeal and about a thousand are still alive.
The Japanese government has long been criticized by the international community for its handling of cases of comfort women. Extremadura said the Japanese government continues to refuse to acknowledge accountability over the atrocities committed against the comfort women.
“What is worse is that with the refusal of Japan to recognize the systematic war sex slavery, there is no assurance that it will not happen again,” Extremadura said.
US presence in the country
Extremadura, in a press conference last Feb. 5, said that women would continue to be vulnerable to war atrocities as wars of aggression are still happening. She cited the rotational presence of US troops in the country saying that the case of comfort women should serve as a reminder of the threat that the presence of foreign troops hold for women.
Joms Salvador, secretary general of women’s group Gabriela, said the United States is pushing for increased rotational presence in the country and the region to gain political and economic control over Southeast Asia, including the Philippines.
The same conditions, she added, resulted in World War II, which brought injustice and atrocities to women.
“The US has been warmongering in the Asia Pacific region especially with its Asia Pacific pivot policy. As we fear for a next generation of comfort women, the lolas will do everything, despite their advanced age and limitations, to stop this from happening,” Extremadura said.
Continue fight for justice
Auring Caranza, 61, said the Philippine government should be the first to acknowledge the atrocities committed against the comfort women of World War II.
Caranza’s mother Placida, one of the comfort women, died last Aug. 16, 2013. She was 105 years old. The only “inheritance” she received, Caranza added, is the fight for justice, which she is determined to continue.
“I am very thankful that there is One Billion Rising, which would be participated in by women not just here in the country but in the whole world. We are here to demand for an apology from the guilty governments and for justice to be served,” Caranza told Bulatlat.com.