Japan’s Surviving Comfort Women Will Receive Reparations

Korean comfort women (Japan Daily Press)

Korean comfort women (Japan Daily Press)

On Dec. 28, the heads of Japan and South Korea came to an agreement over making reparations for the remaining comfort women.

For those who are unfamiliar, comfort women were Korean women who served Japan’s Imperial Army before and during World War II…as sex slaves. This happened during Japan’s colonial rule over South Korea, which lasted from 1910 to 1945, and contributed to strained relations that continue to this day.

It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly how many comfort women existed, since accurate records weren’t kept. Most estimates put it at a range around 100K to 200K. Women began coming forward about their experiences in the early 1990s.

Of the 238 women who’ve come forward in South Korea, only 46 survive.

Obviously, this is a huge abuse of women (not to mention that of human rights), so it’s good that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se are trying to make it right 70 years later.

In addition to a formal apology, Japan will provide $8.3M-worth of reparations. However, the money won’t go directly to the survivors; it’ll be used by South Korea to establish healthcare for the women.

These reparations are significant because it’s the first time the Japanese government will provide the money. In 1993, Japan set up donations provided by private donors, but it wasn’t fully accepted by South Korea. At that time, 60 South Korean women received aid from the donations.

It’ll be interesting to see how these reparations make a difference for the women, and how the action changes Japan and South Korea’s relationship.

 

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Why Is the Number of Sexual Assaults Rising in New York City?

New York City skyline (The Huffington Post)

New York City skyline (The Huffington Post)

Certain types of violence are on the rise in the city that never sleeps. In addition to shooting and homicides increasing year-over-year, the number of rapes and sexual assaults has also increased.

But is it enough to panic over? Let’s look at the numbers. “The New York Times” reports:

From Jan. 1 to May 31, there were 540 rapes recorded in the city, an 8 percent increase over the same period last year, and more than 1,128 misdemeanor sex crimes, representing a rise of 18 percent.

But on the bright side, some types of sexual violence has declined within the city:

According to national data from the Centers for Disease Control in 2012, the rate of stranger rape as a percentage of all rape is 14 percent; in New York City this year, the rate is half that. Of the 540 reported rapes, 39 were committed by someone the victim did not know, according to the police.

But why are the overall numbers climbing? The phenomenon can be attributed to a simple economic principle: the complement effect. Numbers are climbing because more people are reporting them. And that’s a good thing! The more people that are aware of these crimes and can report them, the more accurate a picture we can get of just how rampant sexual assaults are.

I’m interested to see if this is, or will be, the case in other cities.

 

UVA Rape Story Retracted: Has It Happened Before?

UVA (Brohammas)

UVA (Brohammas)

Last week, “Rolling Stone” released an investigative report on its now-infamous piece “A Rape on Campus.” The report, produced jointly with the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, delved into fact-checking the narrative. Ultimately, the investigation found many fact-checking and methodology errors (overall termed a “systematic failing”), and “Rolling Stone” retracted the piece.

I was interested to see if any other investigative journalism pieces, specifically on rape cases, had been retracted at any time. But I wasn’t able to find any. The closest things I could find were examples of victims later recanting their stories.

This has proven to be a first for the journalism world in that such an expansive feature (on such a timely, hot-button issue, no less) has been so thoroughly demolished by its fabrications. Though the story initially drew awareness to rape victims on college campuses, it ultimately ended up casting more negative light on the publication and journalist who covered it. Let’s hope that future journalists covering sexual assault stories will be scared into performing their due diligence to get all the facts right.

 

UVA Sexual Assault: Rape Punishments on College Campuses

UVA Rotunda (Hoo Stories)

UVA Rotunda (Hoo Stories)

On Nov. 19, “Rolling Stone” published a harrowing article on a UVA student’s 2012 gang rape, and its eventual social and political fallout and complications around the campus. The article goes into depth in detailing UVA’s culture of avoiding the topic of sexual assault, and terming any assaults mere “bad experiences.”

The article cites UVA’s honor code culture that also functions to keep sexual assault quiet. It points out that 183 students have been expelled for violating the honor code since 1998, but there have been no expulsions resulting from reporting sexual assault (which is arguably more prevalent, from anecdotal data).

This isn’t just a UVA issue. Last year, Yale allowed five students guilty of “nonconsensual sex” to continue their education at the Ivy institution without suspension or expulsion. (The sixth one was suspended and future probation.) Instead, they were given punishments ranging from sensitivity training to a reprimand.

The “Rolling Stone” article notes that one in five women will be sexually assaulted during their time in college, but only 12% will report an assault to the police. So it’s clear that the actual numbers are much higher than those being reported. Hopefully, this UVA case will spur on more open discussions on sexual assault, particularly on college campuses, and urge universities to hand out heavier punishments for assailants.