First, the participants introduced themselves to one another. Misato Sasaki and a staff then briefly shared about the WSCF AP’s campaign on theme. Expectations were then shared afterwards.
The participants shared many experiences and concerns about violence surrounding women and the youth. Some concerns in Japan are intimate partner violence, unequal job opportunity or promotion, gender role in the home nursing situation and foreign women’s labor in sex industry.
After that, they discussed how these issues are connected with the violence on women.
In general, some people say, “women who suffer violence also have faults.” Is it a debatable comment? The participants did not think so. Rather, while the violence for women occurs, there are the proofs that a structure to despise women still remains. This structure makes it difficult for women to have as many choices or strong economical independence unlike their male counterparts do.
Through the workshop, the questions they posed were: “When did we have consciousness of our gender?” “Who taught us that we are women/men?” and “How did we acquire our feminine/masculine roles?”
These meant that gender biases are one of the many causes violence against women. Gender biases push us to be either authoritarian or powerless, to be either men or women. Though they did not have enough time to discuss, some students pointed out that Japanese society functions under the premise of heterosexuality.
Finally, the participants shared that it was important for them to try to break the gender biases and the violence against women. This workshop was the place to raise their consciousness and action towards a violence-free society.
After the workshop, the participants watched a video on violence against women. The video focused on Taiwanese women who experienced rape during the time of Japan’s colonization of Taiwan. The women then were called “Comfort Women”.
“Comfort Women” pertains to those who were forced into prostitution as a form of sexual slavery by the Japanese military during World War II. As they were 19 or 20 years old, these experiences crushed them. Some have kept silent for more than 50 years because they were afraid to be made fun of or become a disgrace to their family.
Others finally broke their silence because they tried to restore their rights and to insist that “Rape is to look down not only on women’s right but also on a person’s dignity.”
So far, the Japanese government never admitted that the Japanese military committed this violence on Taiwanese women. Neither have they apologized.
Through the video, the participants reflected on how violence against women prevails until today.