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Comfort Woman: A Filipina's Story of Prostitution and Slavery under the Japanese Military (Asian Voices) Paperback – March 18, 1999


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Comfort Woman: A Filipina's Story of Prostitution and Slavery under the Japanese Military (Asian Voices) + The Comfort Women: Japan's Brutal Regime of Enforced Prostitution in the Second World War + The Comfort Women: Sexual Violence and Postcolonial Memory in Korea and Japan (Worlds of Desire: The Chicago Series on Sexuality, Gender, and Culture)
Price for all three: $56.39

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Product Details

  • Series: Asian Voices
  • Paperback: 116 pages
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (March 18, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0847691497
  • ISBN-13: 978-0847691494
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.3 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #162,206 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

A compelling and moving account of one Filipina's ordeal under the Japanese military. It is also a story of survival, and of a lifelong quest for healing and for justice. Maria Rosa Henson deserves praise for her honesty and courage. By revealing to us her painful experiences, Mrs. Henson broke a fifty-year silence and made the world aware of the brutality of war and its savageness to women. We are greatly enriched by this story and inspired by how one woman can overcome such epic suffering and still have such compassion and such faith. (Corazon C. Aquino)

Henson's book is different for two reasons: she experienced the tragedy firsthand and therefore speaks with authority; but she also speaks with the voice of healing, since she has lived with her nightmare for decades and survived, both physically and spiritually. Another amazing aspect of this book is that despite its title, it does not focus naroowly on the sex-slave controversy. Henson died in August 1997, but her words live on. Her example is unforgettable. (The Japan Times)

This book makes clear that what the Japanese army did was only the worst example of oppression against women in the long history of colonialism and imperialism in the Philippines. It serves a corroborative text for historians, a call to arms for feminists and human rights activists, and, finally, a life-affirming reminder of the indomitability of the human spirit for all readers. (Persimmon)

Maria Rosa Henson's Comfort Woman is a straightforward, painful account, simply told. A powerful account of a woman's life controlled by men, both Filipino and Japanese. (Feminist Formations)

Serves as a good introduction to readers who may be approaching the subject of 'comfort women' for the first time….Henson's autobiography becomes more than just the telling of the untold but ultimately the revealing of the unseen and the unsaid. [She] is not only able to recount the nightmare of her abduction and confinement in a 'comfort station,' but she articulates the day to day degradation and hardship that women are subjected to long before and after the war is over. (Pilipinas)

About the Author

Maria Rosa Henson, 1928–1996, was one of thousands of Asian women forced into prostitution during World War II by the Japanese military. She told her story for the first time in the 1990s at the urging of the Task Force on Filipino Comfort Women.

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Customer Reviews

3.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 12, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is a good book as it illumiinates the horrors of war and the strength of human courage & dignity. Unfortunately, people such as 'Hiromi' who have reviewed it below, in typical right-wing Japanese fashion end up denying or trying to cast doubt on events that undoubtedly took place, but unfortunately there are still a fair number of Japanese who like to deny this, which is why there is still so much mistrust of Japanese in Asia even today. Read this book, it will give you an insight of the good & bad of human conduct in war.
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17 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is a very compelling story about the atrocities to which members of the Japanese army subjected a young Filipina girl. It is difficult, at times, to read and certainly not a book I would recommend for young readers. However, it definitely raised my awareness of the issue and the horrors experienced by these "comfort women". It also showed the resilience of women to love and survive again after such deplorable experiences.
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12 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Boiler Bro Joe on September 13, 2005
Format: Paperback
Hiromi's review of "Comfort Woman" is important to respond to because the book's importance comes from the fact that it is a true story. Not knowing anything about comfort women other than what was presented in the book itself, I believe I can still refute Hiromi's points:

The position of the comfort station, and the "odd" use of the words banzai and baka are no evidence against the authenticity of the author's story. To put it bluntly, most of us were not living in Japan during the 1940s and even less of us were on the front lines. We cannot say with any conviction how odd Japanese behavior would have been in that time period and under those circumstances.

The point that Maria could have easily escaped cannot simply be proved by the fact that one guard stood outside her room. No matter how "nice" he was to her, it's unlikely he'd simply let her leave, and even if he did (or if he could be tricked as Hiromi suggests) it's not as if there was a route, free of Japanese soldiers, leading straight from the garrison to safety. Maria constantly refers to Japanese sentries and checkpoints throughout the region, not to mention guards *outside* the building.

The doubt concerning how many Japanese troops would be available to rape Maria doesn't seem to be well founded. The entire purpose of comfort stations was to increase morale, and a losing battle would require more "comfort". Certainly there were always large numbers of troops present at and around the garrison. If sexual services were considered routine for young men to receive, most of them could free up their schedules.

The "more serious doubts" do not hold any more water. The idea that Maria could not learn complex Japanese military terms from her captors is probably true.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Larson on June 23, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
First of all, I don't doubt one word of this woman's story. The ability for people to persevere during war is truly remarkable, and Rosa's story is no different. The Japanese enslavement of comfort women is well documented.

However, the translation and Kindle edition is very difficult to read. Random sentences and non-paragraphs appear out of nowhere. Also, parts of the beginning of the book seem almost like they are out of chronological order. It's a shame that the book couldn't have been translated and written to better honor Rosa's story. I am unhappy to have spent the money on a book so poorly laid out. I would have rather got it at the library.
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9 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 17, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This poignant memoir of a Filippino woman forced into prostitution by the Japanese military during World War II is moving and touching in its simplicity of style. Maria Rosa Henson teaches us truth in these pages, truth which we need to understand. We must all do what we can to see that our country votes properly in the United Nations on this issue. So far the USA is the only nation within the General Assembly of the UN which has refused to uphold that reparations be paid to the thousands and millions of sexual slaves who have been tortured and abused worldwide by the war machine and the various militarists who destroy our humanity everywhere across the globe. The one who has written this book is her personal testitmony to help other survivors.Read this memoir and its introduction. It's worth your education.
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By Jameelah Jones on September 16, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I cried my entire time reading this book. I was disturbed and afraid I couldn't finish it, but I'm so glad I did. I'd recommend it to anyone.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Not worth reading. poorly written.
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