Comfort Women / Troostmeisjes
Text by Hilde Janssen
English and Dutch
Design by Peter Jonker
320 x 235 mm
Raping women seems to be a normal byproduct of wars. During World War II, the Japanese military even set up a system for sex slavery: Tens of thousands of “comfort women” in Asia were forced into prostitution at military brothels. In addition, many girls were abused sexually in railroad wagons, factory warehouses or night after night at home. Most of these women have suffered physical and emotional consequences ever since.
Jan Banning and Hilde Janssen visited Indonesian women who during the war were victims of
forced sexual labor. In this book, 18 of them break the persistent taboo against speaking out on
the issue. Showing them in combination with Japanese war posters, the book presents male and
female sides of war, and propaganda versus reality. Short narratives depict the fate of these and
other former comfort women, painting a gripping picture of this hidden history.
Photographer Jan Banning (b. 1954), living in Utrecht, Netherlands, gained worldwide recognition with “Bureaucratics,” which was shown in museums and galleries in some 20 countries on five continents. Banning’s other well-known series include: “Comfort Women” (2010) and “Traces of War: Survivors of the Burma and Sumatra Railways” (2005). Among Banning’s many awards is a World Press Photo Award. His documentary artwork has been widely published and is in collections, both private and public, such as the High Museum of Art Atlanta, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, and the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam.
Merel Bem, De Volkskrant
“The photographer dives right in with the passion of a scientist. … This investigative approach might be an explanation for the fact that the form is a direct, concentrated and controlled result from the content.”
Scott Indrisek, Whitewall Magazine
“While his choice of subjects does suggest a journalist’s wide-ranging curiosity, Banning composes each image with a fine artist’s eye.”