Sexual Violence in History: A Bibliography

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First published: June 1, 2023 – Last updated: June 1, 2023


Author: Noëlie Frix

Title: Patriarchal State Projects and the Exploitation of Women

Subtitle: A Case Study of Japan’s Sex Industry (1870s-1950s)

Journal: Journal of Human Trafficking

Volume: (Published online before print)


Year: 2023 (Published online: May 10, 2023)

Pages: 15 pages (PDF)

pISSN: 2332-2705 – Find a Library: WorldCat | eISSN: 2332-2713 – Find a Library: WorldCat

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 20th Century, Asian History: Japanese History, Types: Forced Prostitution / "Comfort Women" System; Types: Wartime Sexual Violence / Asia-Pacific War


Link: Taylor & Francis Online (Free Access)


Abstract: »This case study employs intersectional gender theory and adopts the critical perspective in human trafficking literature to explore how Japanese officials have exploited prostitution and sex industry-related legislation to further their political, economic, and military interests, both in peace and war time, over the 1870s-to-1950s time span. In particular, this paper investigates how sex work and sex trafficking have been understood, how and why these exploitative systems morphed over time, and who benefitted. It finds that sex-trade related legislation has largely been coopted by the state’s leading actors to bolster their power and influence, control women, and improve their international standing. Historical and cultural attitudes toward race, women, and sex continue to exercise a significant influence on Japanese officials, impeding efforts at effective prosecution of sex crimes and severely hindering the protection of individuals involved in the sex trade. Notably, the criminalization of prostitution undermines women’s human and labor rights, complicates anti-trafficking efforts, and renders victims more vulnerable by making them largely invisible and labeling them “criminals.” To craft effective solutions to sexual exploitation, it is crucial that policymakers explicitly address gendered and racial biases and acknowledge how masculinized control of femininities and women have affected and continue to influence exploitative systems.« (Source: Journal of Human Trafficking)

  Abstract (p. 1)
  Introduction (p. 1)
  Laying the Groundwork (p. 3)
    Licensed Prostitution and the Protection of Public Morals and Hygiene (p. 3)
    Anti-Trafficking and the Pursuit of Influence (p. 4)
  The Road to War: Racist and Sexist Expansionism (p. 5)
    Karayuki-San and the State (p. 5)
    War (p. 8)
    The Comfort Women (p. 8)
    Post-War Criminalization of Prostitution & Its Historical Roots (p.9)
    Licensed Prostitution and Abolitionism’s Pre-War Roots (p. 10)
    Post-War Abolitionism (p. 11)
      Competing Femininities, Masculinized Interests, and the State (p.11)
  Conclusion (p. 13)
    Gendered Past and Politics: Continued Exploitative Systems (p. 13)
  Acknowledgement (p. 14)
  Disclosure Statement (p. 14)
  References (p. 14)

Wikipedia: History of Asia: History of Japan / Shōwa era | Prostitution: Forced prostitution / Comfort women | Sex and the law: Wartime sexual violence / Wartime sexual violence in World War II | War: Pacific War / Japanese war crimes