“Comfort women” or “sex slaves”?
The term “comfort women” in Japanese records of the time and is now widely used to refer to the women. Considering, however, that these women were demeaned because their sole existence was for Japanese soldiers’ “comfort,” so there is no denying that the term glosses over the sexual violence by the military, the very point of the “comfort women” issue. Furthermore, in light of the universal values shared by all humanity, the term represents male (soldier)-centeredness and discrimination against women.
“Sexual slavery,” on the other hand, came into use as a more appropriate term in describing the reality of the women’s victimization (rape by the Japanese military) in a UN Special Rapporteur’s report.
While the term “comfort women” is in habitual use in East Asia, “military sex slaves” is more generally used in the international community now. Note, though, that neither term is respectful of the victims’ loss of dignity.
Thus, just a glance at the issue of terminology reveals that the problem of “comfort women” is essentially that of a universal value: human rights.