A Harvard University professor has sparked outrage among fellow academics and campaigners after claiming that women forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese military had chosen to work in wartime brothels.
J Mark Ramseyer, a professor of Japanese legal studies at Harvard Law School, challenged the accepted narrative that as many as 200,000 “comfort women” – mostly Koreans, but also Chinese, south-east Asians and a small number of Japanese and Europeans – were coerced or tricked into working in military brothels between 1932 and Japan’s defeat in 1945.
In an academic paper published online late last year, Ramseyer claimed the women were sex workers who had voluntarily entered into contracts – a view supported by Japanese ultra-conservatives seeking to whitewash their country’s wartime atrocities.
Some women do volunteer for such. In this particular instance some will have even if – as I assume – many didn’t.