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tedibear's avatar

What would the experience have been of a young woman in the mid-1930's who was raped and became pregnant?

Asked by tedibear (18436points) February 9th, 2019 from iPhone

I’m interested in historical references, as well as historical fiction. If you have any personal knowledge – even second or third hand – of what this would have been like, please share.

I’m interested in what the experience would have been like in both the U.S. and elsewhere.

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14 Answers

LadyMarissa's avatar

My dad was born in 1924 & my Mom in 1926. according to the stories I overheard, the victim of rape was chastised for allowing it to happen. IF she became pregnant she was ostrasized for “enjoying it” while it was happening because a woman couldn’t get pregnant IF she didn’t “enjoy it”...This was happening in the US.

janbb's avatar

She might be sent away on a long “vacation” to have the baby who would be adopted or farmed out somewhere or she might go for a back alley abortion which could be fine or could kill her. She might deliver the baby in secret and then leave it at a hospital or police stations door. There’s not one specific scenario, there are any number. Some of Toni Morrison’s novels such as Beloved and The Bluest Eye deal with African American women who were raped.

Unofficial_Member's avatar

I have a real life story from Indonesia (I hope Google Translate still work). It all happened when our country is still conquered by the Japanese.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Hundreds of thousands of women and girls in several Asian countries were raped and forced to undergo sexual slavery or so-called ‘ianfu’ by Japanese soldiers, including in Indonesia.

Sri Sukanti (80) was only nine years old when Japanese soldiers were taken to the Papak Building, Purwodadi, Central Java.

“Wow, my father, as hard as I was taken, was thought to want to be killed. Then there were my friends going to school, thought to want to be killed.

For several days, he was raped by a Japanese military officer.

”(I) caressed and kissed… screwed three times, not every day… Hmm, crying anyway, how about it, far from parents, who would help me?” he said.

Sri remembered that she was in the building with other girls, but was not in the same room.

Nothing can be done to escape from the building.

I met Sri Sukanti at her residence in a tenement house in Salatiga, Central Java. His body was thin, his hands occasionally trembled while talking to me, staring blankly at his eyes when describing his experiences as a ‘sex slave’ of Japanese soldiers.

While in the Papak Building, Sri revealed that she was routinely injected so as not to have children. Sri shows a scar on her buttocks.

“Here is the injection, one week does not wake up, the pain is only one place, this is the place. This is done (on the spot), just,” said Sri.

Sri is the victim of one of the biggest acts of sexual violence in modern history. During World War II an estimated 200,000 women were put in custody and thousands of them were raped by Japanese soldiers.

Most of these women are citizens of Korea and China, but similar operations are carried out in other Japanese colonies, including Indonesia, Myanmar and the Philippines.

In Indonesia, women from Java were brought to the forefront of warfare, such as in Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and even Maluku, including on Buru Island.

According to Eka Hindra, as a ‘Ianfu’ researcher, Japan carried out a system of practices of sexual slavery under military control during the colonial period.

“This is indeed a system and is not just applied because the recruitment carried out is in accordance with the situation in the area, as in Gunung Kidul much is taken from roads or gardens. Then there are those who are lured to continue education, work, and schools – which finally, the victims are from educated people, “Eka explained.

These women were brought and placed in ianjo (brothels) which were built by Japanese soldiers, which were spread in various regions.

In addition to the ianjo, many women also experienced rape by Japanese soldiers.

Paini – 86 years old – is a grandmother who speaks firmly and is very friendly. Until now he had never told directly about the sexual violence he had experienced during the Japanese occupation of his children or grandchildren.

Even so, he was very open to expressing the cruelty of a Japanese soldier against him.

When Japan entered Salatiga, Central Java, its soldiers recruited local residents for forced labor or became romusha. Paini, who was 12 years old at the time, underwent forced labor. At that time he was married.

At the Japanese military barracks, Paini suffered sexual violence by Japanese soldiers.

“I was told to cook corn stews made to feed Romusha people. But my cooking was not finished, I did not know if someone was behind me, I was held captive,” said Paini.

At that time none of his friends dared to help him, and reported it to one of the Japanese officers who led the barracks. He was finally sent home.

Her husband then divorced her. Throughout his life, Paini later remarried twice and had four children.

Uterine rot

Many ‘ianfu’ survivors who cannot have children because their reproductive organs have been destroyed while in the ‘prisoners’ of Japanese soldiers. After the war ended, they also experienced stigma and were referred to as ‘former Japan’.

Sex slavery in Japanese times was clearly revealed when a Kim Han Sook, a survivor of ‘ianfu’ from South Korea gave testimony publicly in 1992.

After that one by one ‘ianfu’ in a number of countries testified to the Japanese atrocities against them. In Indonesia, a survivor of Tuminah from Solo who gave testimony publicly in 1992.

the following year, the Yogyakarta Legal Aid Institute collected data on victims of Japanese sexual slavery by opening complaints.

Former Director of LBH Yogyakarta, Budi Santoso, said the data collection was carried out because there was a request from Japan that Indonesia register victims of sex slavery during the war. Through the data collection at that time, 1,156 people were tracked.

“Their physical condition and health are not very good. Just imagine that they were during their youth to get such sexual treatment that their uterus was decaying,” said Budi.

He said the testimony of the ‘ianfu’ actually caused stigma against them, and some even had an impact on their economies.

Budi said that the data collection and verification conducted by LBH Yogyakarta at that time was assisted by Ms. Mardiyem, a survivor from Yogyakarta who was made ‘ianfu’ in Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan.

“The entrance was from Mrs. Mardiyem. After her confession, many of the other victims later confessed,” Budi explained.

The ‘ianfu’ survivors who were recorded by LBH Yogyakarta came from Lampung, Java, even in East Nusa Tenggara. There are also those who are Dutch.

Meanwhile, the ex-Heiho Communication Forum noted that there were 20,000 women who were victims of Japanese atrocities.

When these survivors’ ianfu testimonies were made public, Japan then offered “apologies and regrets for everyone, who suffered from immeasurable pain and physical and psychological injuries from being ianfu”.

Fund to build a nursing home

Japan then formed the Asia Women Fund (AWF) – announced by the Cabinet Secretary in June 1995 – based on an agreement made by three parties.

On its website, AWF said the establishment of this institution was a form of concern, regret and apology for ianfu problems.

But in Indonesia, AWF said that because the government did not identify ianfu, funding of 380 million yen (around Rp24 billion at the current exchange rate) was provided through the Ministry of Social Affairs in stages over 10 years to build 235 nursing home facilities in all regions. In addition, three nursing home facilities were also established through organizations engaged in ‘ianfu’ problems.

BBC Indonesia had visited a home built using the funds in Central Java, but the manager said that there were no survivors of the ianfu who lived there.

The ‘ianfu’ assistant and former LBH Jakarta Director Nursyahbani Katjasungkana said at the time that the government’s attitude was more concerned with relations with Japan, but later there had been changes.

“The Indonesian government over the lobby in the Indonesian National History book, there is one and a half pages of stories about ‘ianfu’ as part of victims of war,” explained Nursyahban


Although it had been going on for decades, Paini still remembered the incident.

“The only thing that hurts in my heart is that, if it’s night until old I think if I remember that one I can’t sleep, my heart still hurts,” he said

To forget it, Paini occupied herself with various activities at her old age, and continued to work on ornamental plant farming.

Paini said that she never received an apology directly.

“If I face it myself, I can apologize. If I can’t deal with it, I can’t apologize,” he said. “Have I ever received a gift from Japan? Never before… has never been a dime,” said Paini.

While Sri Sukanti claimed to have received aid funds from the Ministry of Social Affairs for about three months about six years ago.

He currently lives in a tenement located in the center of Salatiga, Central Java, together with his husband, Muhamad Sidik, accompanied by several pet dogs. To make a living, Sri often sells his pet puppies.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Welcome. It could be any women’s story….

snowberry's avatar

It doesn’t matter the culture. It happens all over the world, and it has from the beginning of time.

Dutchess_III's avatar

And it’s really horrifying that it’s only been within the last 50 years that it’s even been viewed as a crime.

snowberry's avatar

It’s a crime only in some countries. In other countries they still blame the woman, and she often pays for it with her life, or she is forced to marry the guy who raped her. In countries such as Yemen where a man must pay a dowry to marry a wife, it’s a simple matter to get around the required dowery by raping her, and then he “must” marry her, never mind the dowery.

Convenient, right?

Dutchess_III's avatar

You’re right. It’s only been a crime in this country for 40 years.

Strauss's avatar

I recently heard a family story about an aunt, my mother’s older sister. My mom was born in 1916, and had two older sisters. The eldest was born in 1913, and the middle one, obviously, somewhere between.

Their mother (my grandmother) passed in 1922, a victim of the pandemic. I don’t know any details as to why, but the three girls were placed in an orphanage operated by Catholic nuns. When the oldest turned 18,(somewhere around 1931) she couldn’t stay at the orphanage any more. I don’t have a lot of details other than the fact she was placed with a family as a housekeeper in return for room and board. She soon returned to the Sisters’ care as an “unwed mother-to-be”. The child was subsequently put up for adoption through the orphanage.

tedibear's avatar

Thank you to all of you for your answers and insights. All of you gave me many helpful perspectives from which to learn.

Dutchess_III's avatar

To this day the stigma is still on the unwed mother, whether it’s due to rape or consensual sex. I hope that some day the men will be just as subject to the finger pointing.

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