Major Department

International Studies


College of Liberal Arts & Sciences


BA (Bachelor of Arts)

Session and Year of Graduation

Spring 2018

Honors Major Advisor

Emily Wentzell

Thesis Mentor

Amy Weismann


Prior to and during World War II, the Imperial Japanese government authorized and executed the systematic sexual labor of over 200,000 women and girls from Korea, the Philippines, Taiwan, Indonesia, Burma, the Netherlands, Australia, and Japan. The jugun ianfu, more widely known by the wartime euphemism “comfort women,” have longtime been a topic of international discussion. The comfort women and sympathizers continue to seek international recognition and redress for the crimes of wartime sexual labor against Japan. However, the comfort women issue, an issue that has continued for roughly seventy-three years, has yet to be solved due to the lack of historical documentation, constant denial of events, and strained political relationships. In addition to the many legal, moral, and societal reasons, the definition of the comfort women phenomenon is being brought to question. Would a conclusive definition of the comfort women phenomenon lead to faster reconciliation? This research paper provides an in-depth exploration on how the comfort women phenomenon should be presently defined. Is the phenomenon a case of prostitution, or is it a case of sexual enslavement, and why are these two descriptions so hotly debated? Based on the international academic and judicial communities, and testimonies from former comfort women, the comfort women phenomenon will be considered prostitution as sexual enslavement.


comfort women, prostitution, sexual enslavement, human rights, Japan, Korea

Total Pages

34 pages


Copyright © 2018 Mickayla Ruth Molnar

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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