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Rape and Comfort

Time period: 1942-1945



Realisation project:

Stichting Het Kader; Van Osch Filmprodukties ©


TImeframe: 1942-1945
Locatie: Indonesia
Number of interviews: 10


Thematic collection: Erfgoed van de Oorlog



They are euphemistically called ‘comfort women’: young Indonesian girls who were systematically raped by soldiers of the Japanese occupying army in World War II. They performed sexual ‘forced labour’ in soldiers’ brothels. What are the memories of these Indonesian women and how did their pain, which was often hidden and repressed, affect the rest of their lives? In this interview project, ten Indonesian women who were forced to work as sex slaves are interviewed. They reluctantly talk about their war experiences.


The Japanese occupier considered controlled sex in military brothels a pragmatic measure to prevent venereal diseases and large-scale rape. The interviewed women tell a different story. They were taken from the streets by force or with false promises, picked up at home, summoned by village chiefs and systematically raped in military brothels, barracks, factory sheds, train carriages and tent camps.

Portrait photographs were also taken of the now very elderly women. Their stories have also been included in a book.


Together with photographer Jan Banning (World Press Photo Award 2004) and journalist Hilde Janssen, filmmaker Frank van Osch travelled through Indonesia, where they interviewed dozens of comfort women.


Educational version: