Church of Baclaran in Manila © Takuma Gemina Ryu (shutterstock)
Against oblivion: Women's rights activists have erected a plaque on the grounds of a Catholic church in Manila commemorating the women who were victims of sexual exploitation by the Japanese occupation army during World War II.
Women's rights activists have erected a memorial plaque on the grounds of a Catholic church in Manila for the women who were victims of sexual exploitation by the Japanese occupying army during World War II. The pastor of the Redemptorist Church Mother of Perpetual Help, Father Teodulo Holgado, stressed that it is "just and right to remember the Filipinos who suffered during the war," the Asian Catholic news service Ucanews reported Monday. This applies "especially to the thousands of 'comfort women' who are still waiting for justice," the Redemptorist priest said.
Holgado and his church are known in Manila for their commitment to the poor, social justice and their rejection of President Rodrigo Duterte's drug war.
Only memorial in the Philippines to commemorate "comfort women"
The plaque on the grounds of Baclaran Church, considered a national shrine, is currently the only memorial in the Philippines commemorating the "comfort women," according to Ucanews. The statue of a "comfort woman" was removed by Philippine authorities in April 2017 from a boulevard on Manila Bay to make way for a drainage project. The sculpture has since been considered lost. On 30. December 2018, another statue of a "comfort woman" on the grounds of the Mary Mother of Mercy Catholic Home for the Elderly in Laguna province was removed after an intervention by Japan.
"Comfort women" is the euphemistic term for victims of forced prostitution by the Japanese military in East Asia. According to estimates, about 200.000 girls and women had to make themselves available for Japanese soldiers in Korea, China, Taiwan, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, the Philippines, East Timor and the Dutch Indies between 1937 and 1945, according to the Society for Threatened Peoples.