SENATOR Ana Theresia “Risa” N. Hontiveros-Baraquel has filed a resolution calling for government action on reparations sought by so-called Filipino comfort women who were abused by Japanese soldiers during World War II.
“Reparations to victim-survivors are long past due,” said Ms. Hontiveros, who chairs the committee on women, children, family relations and gender equality.
“Many of them have already passed away and the few who remain are in their twilight years, making it all the more critical for the Philippine government to take immediate measures that can tangibly support these women and their families,” she said in a statement on Monday.
The United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women has ruled that the Philippine government had failed to fulfill its treaty obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women.
Since no “reparation, social support and recognition commensurate with the harm suffered” were given to victims, the Philippine government must provide full compensation and an apology.
The plaintiffs said that in November 1944, victims were forcibly taken to the Japanese headquarters in San Ildefonso, Pampanga in northern Philippines and held for at most three weeks, during which they were repeatedly raped and tortured under inhumane detention conditions.
“They have since then endured long-term physical, psychological, social and economic consequences, including physical injuries, post-traumatic stress, permanent damage to their reproductive capacity and harm to their social relationships in their community, marriage and work,” the UN body said.
Ms. Hontiveros lauded the UN body for recognizing that sexual violence against women and girls during war remains a violation of their rights.
“The experiences of the comfort women have caused them undue shame and trauma that they have had to live through most of their lives,” she said.
“The least our government can do is help them and their families as they carry on in their healing,” she added. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan