Sexual Violence in History: A Bibliography

compiled by Stefan Blaschke


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First published: March 1, 2024 - Last updated: March 1, 2024


Speaker: Timothy Webster

Title: Lessons in Humility

Subtitle: Transnational “Comfort Women” Litigation in Northeast Asia

Conference: Annual Conference of the Association for Asian Studies (March 1: Virtual, March 14-17, 2024: In-Person) - Online Program

Session: B028 - Legal Mobilization in Japan and Korea (Chair: Tae-Ung Baik)

Place: Seattle, Washington, United States

Date: March 15, 2024

Language: English

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


Link: -


Speaker: Timothy Webster, School of Law, Western New England University - Google Scholar

Abstract: »The redress movement for victims of Japan’s military sexual slavery, also known as comfort women, involves transnational legal mobilization. Thirty years after the first lawsuit from a Korean survivor was filed in Japan, and with civil litigation still pendent in Korea, what has legal mobilization achieved? The record is mixed.
On the one hand, the lawsuits drew worldwide attention to the issue. International news coverage about the lawsuits educated the world about this forgotten tragedy of World War II. Litigation impelled scholars, activists, and lawyers to conduct many interviews in China, Korea, Taiwan, Philippines, and elsewhere that uncovered more facts. The lawsuits made important legal determinations about Japan’s exploitation under domestic and international law. Given judicial inattention to sexual violence, in East Asia and the West alike, these findings are significant but oft overlooked.
On the other hand, the lawsuits did not yield meaningful redress. Japanese courts eventually rejected all the suits, and while one 2021 Korean court found in favor of plaintiffs, that decision has been appealed. Plaintiffs express exasperation, disappointment and even betrayal with the outcomes. Second, litigation triggered backlash among conservative Japanese politicians and activists. Finally, the “comfort women” issue has seeped into other international issues, including the problem of wartime forced labor. Japan’s parsimonious position on forced labor—manifested most recently in a March 2023 agreement between Japan and South Korea—in partly reflects conservative resentment regarding the “comfort women” issue. Transnational legal mobilization may help address knotty problems but cannot guarantee a satisfying remedy on its own.« (Source: Online Program)

Wikipedia: History of Asia: History of Korea / Korea under Japanese rule | 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