Taiwan’s history of "comfort women" should be added to Academia Historica’s archives and the national curriculum to mark International Memorial Day for Comfort Women tomorrow, the Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation and the Judicial Reform Foundation told a news conference in Taichung yesterday.
The existence of comfort women in Taiwan during World War II has largely been ignored, the groups said.
"History must not be forgotten and the truth must be known," they said. "The history of comfort women as military sexual slaves during World War II belongs to the painful collective memory of Taiwanese women."
To better understand attitudes toward public education about the issue, the rescue foundation last month conducted an online survey.
Of the 677 respondents, 99 percent knew about Taiwan’s history of comfort women, Taipei Women’s Rescue Foundation chief executive officer Tu Ying-chiu (杜瑛秋) said.
However, asked whether schools teach this history, 46.7 percent said they did not know and 53.2 percent said they do not, Tu said, adding that most people said they learned about the issue from documentaries or news programs.
More than 90 percent of respondents said they support including the issue in history books and the national curriculum, and amending the euphemistic name to specify that they were "military sex slaves," Tu said.
Only a few textbooks mention comfort women, and the only place it appears in the national curriculum is in the "gender and history" section for Grade 12, the groups said, adding that some people erroneously believe the women acted voluntarily.
Few published histories of Taiwan mention the issue either, while Academia Historica has no dedicated section in its records, they said.
It is not only a part of national history, but also an important chapter in gender and human rights, the groups said, calling on the government to give more attention to the role of women in history.
South Korean advocates designated Aug. 14 an international day of remembrance for comfort women to honor the first public testimony by a survivor, Kim Hak-soon, delivered on that day in 1991.
[Taipei Times, 2022-8-13]