Gabriela Files Bill for National Memorial Day for Comfort Women

By: Andrea Eleanor Cabaron
August 16, 2023

A statue commissioned by the Tulay Foundation in honor of the women of the country. Photo courtesy of PhilStar.

After 78 years of the enduring trauma and injustice for Filipino Comfort Women of World War II, Rep. Arlene Brosas of Gabriela Partylist proposed House Bill No. 8859 which declares National Memorial Day for Comfort Women on August 14 of every year. 

Wanting to ensure that Filipinas' hardship in the Second World War will be remembered the bill will serve as a reminder to future generations about upholding human rights and standing against all forms of violence and exploitation. 

“It is a step towards ensuring that the stories of the comfort women are remembered and that their fight for justice is never forgotten,” Brosas said.

Gabriela Women’s Partylist remains committed to their advocacy for the rights and welfare of women. Pushing legislation promoting gender equality and addressing the social and historical injustices suffered by women and the LGBTQIA+ community. 

The Gabriela Partylist Lawmaker says that they will continue to stand in solidarity with the comfort women and work towards a society where their rights are respected and their stories are acknowledged. 

“Let us remember their bravery and honor their memory on the National Memorial Day for Comfort Women,” Brosas said.

It was on August 14, 1991 when Kim Hak Suk, a Korean woman, stepped forward to publicly tell her story of being a comfort woman, a sex slave of the Imperial Japanese Army during World War 2. She is the first victim to do so. This made history of inspiring other victims of sexual abuse during the war to come forward and share their story. 

According to the research of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), the girls and young women would be forced to stay in the comfort stations and would be required to provide sexual pleasure to Japanese soldiers, usually 30 to 40 times on weekdays, and sixty to a hundred times on weekends. 

Rep. Arlene Brosas cites the Philippine government records from the DSWD, it estimates the number of comfort women enslaved by the Japanese soldiers from 1942 to 1945 at around 80,000 to 200,000, of which 80% are Korean while 1,000 are Filipinos. 

Narcisa Claveria, one of the surviving comfort women, joined Rep. Arlene Brosas as she filed the bill. 

The National Historical Commision of the Philippines (NHCP), the Philippine Commission on Women (PCW), the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), and other pro-women organizations will be tasked to work together in raising awareness if the Bill is approved.