Waging Sexual Warfare: Case Studies of Rape Warfare Used by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II

Citation:

Heit, Shannon. 2009. “Waging Sexual Warfare: Case Studies of Rape Warfare Used by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II.” Women’s Studies International Forum 32 (5): 363–70. doi:10.1016/j.wsif.2009.07.010.

Author: Shannon Heit

Abstract:

Even in peacetime, women are victims, though to a lesser degree, of the same atrocities that become their fate in war. It is important to recognize that patriarchal and subjective attitudes towards women in peacetime make a logical, though horrifying, progression to the treatment of women during war and armed conflicts. Rape during wartime is an act as old as war itself, but it was not documented as a strategic military practice of warfare until World War I. After World War I these crimes were never prosecuted, further encouraging the use of mass rape as a strategic military operation in subsequent conflicts. Using case studies of documented rape warfare under the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II, we are able to discern two categories of rape: that as a weapon of terror as seen in the example of The Rape of Nanking during World War I and that as a form of sexual slavery as exemplified in the case of the “Korean Comfort Women” stations during World War II. This article outlines what actions must be taken to bring the perpetrators of wartime rapes to justice—a necessary step to bringing peace and reconciliation to the victims and in preventing future atrocities.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women, Gender-Based Violence, Health, Trauma, Sexual Violence, Rape, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse, SV against women, Violence Regions: Asia, East Asia Countries: Japan

Year: 2009

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