When a new academic journal article by a Harvard Law professor argued that “comfort women” – Korean and other women forced to serve Japan’s troops – were prostitutes who had willingly entered into indenture contracts, an international network of scholars rose to challenge this claim, one not supported by extensive historical evidence.
UConn History Professor Alexis Dudden is at the forefront of this movement and when The New York Times and New Yorker wrote about the controversy, they both turned to Professor Dudden and her expertise. Not only has Professor Dudden researched and wrote about this topic, but she has interviewed the women who were forced into sexual slavery for the soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army.
Since the early 1990s, survivors’ voices have been a part of the discussion and influenced how scholars have written about the topic. But this new article, and the argument at the heart of it, is attempting to marginalize the survivors. As Professor Dudden put it, in the Times article, “This is so startling, 30 years later, to be dragged back, because in the meantime survivors from a wide range of countries found a voice.”
For more about the controversy, and Professor Dudden’s thoughts on the matters, as well as her advocacy for the voices of the women who experienced sexual trafficking and slavery, please give both articles a read.