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Fifty-first session
Agenda item 11

War Rape

International Educational Development welcomes the excellent first report (E/CN.4/1995/42) of the rapporteur on violence against women. Violence against women is a direct result of complete inequality of women in every area of life: civil, political, economic, social and cultural. We would like to address one feature of that violence -- war rape, discussed by the Rapporteur in paragraphs 261-292 of her report.

In our view, not only most countries but the entire international arena, including the United Nations itself, is effectively controlled by men and indeed made in men's image. This accounts for the failure until now to even address the situation of war rape, in spite of the fact that in all wars since the beginning to time, rape and violence against women have been a fundamental feature. This also accounts for the failure to raise the issue of violence against women sufficiently (or at all in some cases) in the post-World War II tribunals at Nuremberg and Tokyo, and why these issues are still before us today.

Of course today, because of increased pressure by women, war- time rape in the territory of the former Yugoslavia and in Rwanda is under serious scrutiny at the international tribunals established to address war crimes in those areas. And, as reported by the rapporteur, war-rape in Kashmir by the Indian forces and in Burma by the SLORC forces is rampant. Even so, some governments have advanced the absurd notion that war-rape is a newly-condemned crime. However, war rape, in spite of its failure to have attracted sufficient remedial measures, has been condemned in international law for centuries. The early scholars Belli (1563), Gentili (1612) and Grotius (1625) all indicate that war rape was a war crime. The post World War I Versailles Commission listed rape as a war crime. Control Council Law No. 10, defining war crimes and listing crimes against humanity for the Nuremberg and Tokyo Charters, includes war rape.

Besides the condemnation of war-rape in international law, international law has long required compensation for victims of war crimes. The right to compensation of injury is, according to Grotius, one of the five basic elements of law. The famous American case Marbury v. Madison (1803) calls the right of individual compensation "the very essence of civil liberty." The right to individual compensation has existed in the international law sphere for hundreds of years. Woolsey, writing in 1892 refers to the customary law right of individuals to redress or compensation. The great Calcutta High Court Judge Guha Roy calls compensation of injured aliens "a timeless axiom of law." There is no exclusion of compensation for war crimes in international law: a 1796 US Supreme Court decision acknowledged that the right to compensation is acquired by private persons during war; the Hague Convention of 1907 requires compensation for violations of the rules of war. Accordingly, war-rape victims should be compensated.

The speaker, with Jennifer F. Chew, published an article Compensation of Japan's War Rape Victims cited by the rapporteur in paragraph 209 of her report in which these issues and many additional citations are presented clearly showing that war-rape was a war crime at the time of World War II and that individual compensation for war crimes must be made.

Japan has still not provided any compensation for its war-rape victims. As indicated by the rapporteur, as many as 200,000 girls and women were part of the Japanese programme of "comfort women" or jugun ianfu. Our research shows that more than 1/2 of the girls and women died as a direct result of the treatment they received. Many survivors were detained in the programme for 3 to 5 years. Most participants were raped 5 - 20 times a day.

Taking the lowest figures, at any given time, there were about 20,000 jugun ianfu. Each of them was raped at least 5 times per day. That means that there were at least 100,000 rapes per day arranged by the Japanese authorities and carried out by its soldiers -- 100,000 rapists per day. 100,000 times at least five days per week equals at least 500,000 rapes per week -- or 2 million per month -- or 24 million per year. Even assuming only 5 years of the programme, there were at least 125 million rapes -- 125 million rapes against the women of Korea, Philippines, Burma, China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Netherlands.

Mr.Chairman, do you think a country should have to pay something for having committed as a minimum 125 million rapes -- maybe even twice that many. Japan has paid nothing to these victims.

Lets look at the statistics from the point of view of a single victim. At an average of 10 rapes per day (still a low figure), and a five day work week, each comfort girl was raped 50 times per week or 2,500 times per year. For three years of service -- the average -- a comfort girl was raped 7,500 times.

Mr. Chairman, how much compensation do you think ought to be paid to a woman who was raped 7,500 times. What would the members of the Commission want for their daughters if their daughters had been raped even once. China, Korea, Philippines, Netherlands, Burma -- these are your daughters. How can the international community, even though dominated by men, fail to demand that Japan provide meaningful compensation for each of these women.

Fifty years is long time. It is a long time for these women to relive those awful rapes over and over and over again. Japan, your surviving victims are elderly, many if not most suffering from health consequences from your rapes. Do the right thing. Pay them.

We are pleased to have Attorney Ken'Ichi Takagi as part of our delegation. Attorney Takagi is the attorney for many of Japan's Korean and Philippina comfort girls and other victims seeking individual compensation from Japan in Japanese courts. We attach his summary of these compensation claims as well as his statement regarding the individual right to compensation. Mr. Takagi would like to stress to this Commission that each victim injured by Japan should be compensated directly by Japan with a sum that adequately reflects the suffering of the victims and the gravity of Japan's violations of their rights. How that compensation is to be paid must be acceptable to the victims and their representatives. The private fund currently proposed by the government is both controversial and is fundamentally flawed. Until the government of Japan pays agreed-upon individual compensation by an agreed-upon mechanism, then the victims will remain uncompensated.


Related documents:

  • Statement at the 52nd session (1996)
  • Legal Opinion - Part I and Part II

    See also: A law review article by Karen Parker, cited by the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, entitled "Compensation for Japan's World War II War Rape Victims (with Jennifer Chew)", 17 Hastings Int'l & Comparative Law Review 497 (1994).

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