News spread a few weeks ago about Japan and Korea’s settlement regarding the claims of the Korean Comfort Women who were forced to sexual slavery during WWII under the hands of the Japanese Imperial Army. It was agreed by the two nations that the Japanese government will offer a final apology once and for all and will pay 1 billion yen or $8.3 million dollars to provide care for the said Korean comfort women.
It must be noted that this agreement came about because the Korean Government decided to espouse the claims of the Korean comfort women against Japan. Under international law, individual persons have no legal personality to sue another state. Instead, the government of these individuals must represent them and sponsor their claims. The Korean Government did exactly this and emerged triumphant in the end.
The Filipino Comfort Women suffered very similar atrocities and had a very similar plight. For years and years, they have been asking the Philippine Government to help them with their cause. Our difference though from Korea is that the Philippines denied its own women access to justice when the Supreme Court dismissed their petition on the ground that the Philippines has already waived all claims against Japan by virtue of the Treaty of Peace of 1951. Had it decided to take the course that the Korean Government took, we might have had the chance to give our Malaya Lolas the justice that they’ve always deserved but have never gotten for the longest time.
This just makes me feel bad to the core, especially because I work in an office that advocates for women empowerment and gender equality. Hence, I would like to share with you, my dear readers, my law school thesis which was about the Filipino Comfort Women and their immortalized subjugation.
I was having a hard time deciding whether to publish this paper in this blog. For the most part, I am afraid to out a paper that criticizes our Supreme Court and our Executive Department especially because I am working now for our very own government. However, I decided that there is nothing wrong with doing so because I wrote this paper merely for the purpose of academic discussion, and my opinions are not worded in a defamatory manner (I think?). haha. Second, I am a little uneasy with the idea of gaining criticism from other people (law students, lawyers, etc). By no means was I a superb law student and I cannot ever claim that I have mastery over the laws but I guess it will be a healthy exercise to hear counter-arguments from my colleagues (but please keep things polite and don’t resort to personal insults! aah!) as I am planning to improve my paper and study the topic further (I might take a course on Feminism someday you see.. haha).
Anyways, I am copy-pasting the Abstract of my thesis so you have an idea of what the whole paper contains. I am attaching the complete paper (in pdf) at the end of this post so if the topic interests you at all, feel free to read the whole 27 pages of it. LOL.
Apologies because the annexes are not included in the uploaded file. Anyway, copies of the Vinuya vs Executive Secretary Decision as well as the Ware vs Hylton Decision are available online. I-google nyo na lang haha!
The Perpetual Enslavement of the Malaya Lolas:
A Critical Analysis of the 2010 Supreme Court Ruling in the case of Vinuya vs Executive Secretary and the Implications Thereof with Respect to the Status of Filipino Comfort Women as Victims of Military Sexual Slavery
This paper looks at the Decision of the Philippine Supreme Court in the case of Vinuya vs Executive Secretary both in the legal and feminist perspective. It gives a critical analysis of the said Decision and explores the implications it made and will make in the future with respect to the status of the Filipino Women as victims of sexual slavery in times of armed conflict. Furthermore, it aims to reveal how the approach taken by the Philippine Government (both the Executive Department and the Judiciary) in dealing with the clamors of our aggrieved Filipino Comfort Women is reflective of our State’s tendency to neglect and forego women’s rights in exchange for a male-dominated concept of economic progress.
The paper starts by identifying the petitioners who filed the suit, on what grounds they relied their petition upon, and what their ultimate prayers are. The author primarily argues that the petitioners who were all subjected to sexual slavery through the Comfort Women System established by the Japanese Imperial Army in the Philippines are the most brutalized victims of war therefore the gross violation of their human rights cannot be taken for granted. To shed better light on the topic, sexual slavery was comprehensively defined in this dissertation and was differentiated from other types of sexual violence (i.e. rape and forced prostitution) as well as other international crimes.
The paper wishes to establish that sexual slavery is the most atrocious crime against humanity zeroing in on the magnitude of cruelty subsumed in it as well as the unimaginable post-war stigma, prejudice and psychological effects it left to the victims. Most importantly, this paper illustrates how if stripped off of its complexities, sexual slavery (especially in the context of the Comfort Women System) is basically a female-gender targeted crime.
Discussed herein as well is the significance of the filing of the case of Vinuya vs Executive Secretary in the sense that had it been decided on with a more gender-sensitive approach, it could have potentially paved the way for the Philippines to make a statement that we are a nation that genuinely gives high regard for gender equality and that proactively champions the rights of the Filipino Women especially in the context of armed conflicts. This paper harps on the petitioners’ right to remedy and consequently the State’s duty to provide a legal channel for the aggrieved victims of sexual slavery.
Finally, this paper tackles the ruling of the Supreme Court in the subject case and gives a critical legal analysis of the said Decision, with a brief discussion on the controversial Treaty of Peace of 1951 which the petitioners sought to be declared void. These legal criticisms are carefully interwoven with a discussion on gender-focused implications of the said Decision. More specifically, this paper attempts to show how our country, even in the modern times, and despite ranking as one of the most gender-sensitive countries worldwide, has taken a step back with its efforts to promote gender equality –whether intentional or not – by the promulgation of the Vinuya vs Executive Secretary Decision.
Click the link below to read my paper: