Japan and South Korea Come to ‘Comfort Women’ Agreement, but Sex Trafficking is Still a Problem Today
Earlier this week, Japan and South Korea reached an agreement regarding wartime “comfort women.” Don’t let the name fool you, though. The innocent-seeming term actually carries a history of violence and abuse toward women. Between 1932 and 1945, the Imperial Japanese Army forced an estimated 200,000 women and girls into sex slavery, to be used by Japanese soldiers.
Japan made a formal apology and will offer $8.3 million to help the women who have suffered the abuse of being one of the army’s comfort women. For years, South Korea has been demanding that Japan apologize and give compensation for the Korean women the Imperial Japanese Army forced into sex slavery.
“South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se said that as long as Tokyo sticks to its side of the deal, Seoul will consider the issue ‘irreversibly’ resolved.”
But out of the hundreds of thousands women and girls who were forced to be comfort women, there are 46 known women who are still alive. While the agreement is great news for Japan and South Korea’s relationship, history and the 46 survivors, sex slavery is still a big issue – more than 70 years after the comfort women system ended.
Around the world today, there are approximately 20-30 million people in slavery, with an estimated 80 percent of those slaves involved in the sex trade. Women and children make up 98 percent of the people forced into sex slavery. One sex traffic survivor said she was forced to have sex with as many as 50 customers per day. According to The CNN Freedom Project, there are more slaves today than at any point in human history.
In 2011, CNN created The CNN Freedom Project in order to bring more attention to modern-day slavery. According to CNN, the goal is to “…amplify the voices of the victims of modern-day slavery, highlight success stories and help unravel the tangle of criminal enterprises trading in human life.” The website offers ways for people around the world to get involved and gives updates, voices to survivors and visibility to the issue.
The CNN Freedom Project isn’t the only campaign or organization fighting against slavery. Plus, there are a number of things anyone can do to help fight slavery around the world. One of the most important things you can do is be informed of the issue and use what you’ve learned to inform others. There are also things to look out for that indicate human trafficking. These include poor living conditions, living with an employer, inability to speak to an individual alone, signs of physical abuse, submissive personality and more. If you encounter what you think could be a slavery situation, there are many hotlines you can call to leave a tip. If you are inclined to get more involved, organizations for survivors are always in need of volunteers.
Photo Credit: Imagens Evangélicas