As a psychologist who specializes in women's reproductive and maternal health, Zucker has listened to many mothers' stories of pregnancy and infant loss. But her own experience of having a miscarriage at 16 weeks gave the mom and psychologist a incredibly personal connection to these issues.
"My cards express a combination of things that I wish I had heard, things I definitely say to my patients in a certain way, and things I've heard from my patients in the aftermath of loss," Zucker said, adding that she feels most people today aren't equipped to know what to do or say to someone going through infant or pregnancy loss.
"My biggest inspiration is my desire to help shift the cultural conversation," the mom said. "I hope that through these cards, I can sort of make an indelible impact on normalizing this kind of grief in our society in a way that it isn't right now." In honor of the start of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, here are Jessica Zucker's empathy cards, available online and in select Los Angeles stores.
Author Maija Rhee Devine became interested in writing about World War II comfort women after she saw artwork produced by residents at The House of Sharing. Ten women in their late-80s and mid-90s — all former comfort women — live there now, she said. They paint as a form of art therapy. Devine, who spoke at MU on Wednesday afternoon about her newest works-in-progress, said both books will shed light on sexual exploitation of comfort women across East Asia by the Japanese military during the war.
Between 1932 to 1945, the Japanese government systematically supplied soldiers with women at military brothels, or "comfort stations," across Japanese-occupied East Asia. More than 200,000 women, many of them from Korea, were trafficked during the war. Many of the girls were between the ages of 12 and 19, Devine said. To gather material for her book, Devine used first-hand accounts archived by a museum associated with The House of Sharing. The museum is dedicated to preserving the personal accounts of comfort women across Asia; it also displays the residents' paintings.
After the war ended, Devine said, many of the comfort women returned to Korea, but they were estranged because of the shame they felt. Talking about women in comfort stations was considered taboo in Korean society until 1991, when Kim Hak-soon, a former comfort woman, spoke publicly about the treatment she endured during the war. That paved the way for more women to come forward. At The House of Sharing, Devine said, the women didn't like to be referred to as former comfort women or sex slaves. Instead, they wanted to be called halmoni, or grandmother, in Korean.
Devine said she was most surprised to learn during her research that the women did not form tight bonds with each other during captivity. They were expected to service 20 to 30 men per day, perhaps 40 to 50 men on weekends, she said. Comfort station operators also pitted women against each other, Devine said. Those who had sex with more men were given small favors like an extra ball of rice. There were also stories of Japanese officers who fell in love with the women, Devine said. They would buy up several hours of time to spend with a woman, Devine said, and simply let her sleep.
Japan and South Korea have agreed to speed up talks to resolve a row about Korean women forced to work in Japanese brothels during World War Two. The issue of so-called "comfort women" has hampered ties in recent years.
The announcement came after the first formal meeting in three years between Korean Prime Minister Park Geun-hye and Japan's Shinzo Abe. Up to 200,000 women are estimated to have been sexually enslaved by Japan during WW2, many of them Korean.
Other women came from China, the Philippines, Indonesia and Taiwan. Japan has apologised in the past for the "pain and suffering" of the women, but South Korea wants a stronger apology and compensation for victims.
Ms Park said the issue of "comfort women" was "the biggest obstacle" to South Korea and Japan's effort to improve their relationship. "She stressed that the issue must be quickly settled in a way that our people can accept," an adviser quoted her as saying. Ms Park had earlier said she hoped the summit could "heal the wounds of the past".
Prosecutors here indicted a South Korean university professor on defamation charges, saying she falsely described former “comfort women” who provided sex to Japanese soldiers during World War II. Park Yu-ha, a professor at Sejong University, was charged without arrest on Nov. 18 in connection to her book, “Comfort Women of the Empire.”
The Seoul Eastern District Prosecutors Office concluded that Park, through the book, defamed the honor of former comfort women and deviated from academic freedom. “It is extremely regrettable that my ideas were not accepted,” Park said on Nov. 19. “But the indictment has become an opportunity for my assertions to be known widely.”
In the book, Park wrote that she sees the relationship between the “empire” (Japan) and the “colony” (Korean Peninsula) as the backdrop for the Korean comfort women issue. She explained that as the war progressed, Korean women who were poor and lacked protection of their rights were sent to battlefronts as comfort women for Japanese troops. In the book, Park raised the issue of whether the women were “sex slaves” or “prostitutes.”
Based on testimonies of former comfort women and other people, Park said the actual conditions and circumstances surrounding the women were diverse. But the prosecutors office takes the stance that the Korean women were forcibly mobilized by the Japanese government and its military forces, making the victims the equivalent of “sex slaves.” One is her description saying comfort women were within the framework of “prostitution” and comforted Japanese soldiers with “patriotism.” The other is a passage saying that, officially, the comfort women were not forcibly taken away by Japanese forces, at least on the Korean Peninsula. “Comfort Women of the Empire” was published in summer 2013.
Shinsaku Nohira, co-president of the All Solidarity Network for Resolution of the Comfort Women Issue
In the request, the group shows that it would be possible to devise a solution that accept the demands of the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan and other groups, which are calling for an admission of legal responsibility through “de facto acknowledgement and compensation,” as agreed upon at the twelfth Asian Solidarity Conference in June 2014.
First, the network noted a Japanese Supreme Court opinion on a 2007 ruling on Chinese comfort women. In it, the court said the Chinese government had not discharged victims’ right to individual claims per se with an agreement at a 1972 summit with Tokyo to re-establish diplomatic relations, but only their right to demand them individually.
On this basis, the network said a form of compensation in which the Japanese government “voluntarily pays the victims and the payment is accepted by the victims” would be “within the bounds of the law.” On the issue of acknowledging responsibility, the group noted that Japanese courts “have already acknowledged that Korean victims were taken against their will through fraud and cajolery, and that in some cases they were taken away through violence.”
“If we accept that as fact, then it is possible to give an apology that mentions more specific facts beyond the basic ones described in the Kono Statement,” the group said, referring to a 1993 statement by then-Chief Cabinet Secretary Yohei Kono acknowledging coercion in the recruitment of comfort women.