In/fertility among Korea’s "Comfort Women" Survivors: A Comparative Perspective


Soh, C. Sarah. 2006. “In/fertility among Korea’s ‘Comfort Women’ Survivors: A Comparative Perspective.” Women’s Studies International Forum 29 (1): 67–80. doi:10.1016/j.wsif.2005.10.007.

Author: C. Sarah Soh


This article explores the social psychological and physiological impact of wartime military sexual slavery on postwar lives of former "comfort women" by analyzing Korean survivors’ testimonial narratives of han (long-held bitter resentment) and my multisite ethnographic research findings on the topic. Taking a comparative perspective of a "person-centered anthropology," it attempts to historicize the experiences of wartime enforced sexual labor and its impact on reproductive capacity in postwar marital lives among some Korean, Filipino, and Dutch survivors. [Soh] posit[s] the cumulative number (as well as the degree of roughness) of forced sexual intercourse–operationalized as the length of sexual servitude period–as a crucial factor in affecting the survivors’ reproductive successes in postwar marital lives. Other important intervening variables for survivors’ in/fertility that [Soh] theorize[s] include sexually transmitted diseases, reproductive disruptions, and exceptionally privileged treatment resulting in reduced sexual workload.

Topics: Armed Conflict, Gender, Women, Health, Reproductive Health, Military Forces & Armed Groups, Militaries, Sexual Violence, Sexual Slavery, SV against Women Regions: Asia, East Asia Countries: North Korea, South Korea

Year: 2006

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