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Filipina victims of sex slavery say no to compensation

Filipino women who were treated as sex slaves by the Japanese army during World War II have rejected a move for compensation, saying the money is useless at their advanced age.

Published: March 17, 2023 11:12 AM GMT

Updated: March 17, 2023 12:16 PM GMT

Survivors and relatives of Filipino women forced into sexual slavery by Japanese soldiers during World War II have dismissed a proposed compensation package. The rejection comes after President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., last Friday, urged the country’s lawmakers to pass a law offering reparation to the sex slavery victims of Japanese forces.

An elderly victim said the move is too late as most victims have already died and it cannot heal the trauma, discrimination, and suffering victims like her faced throughout their lives.

This move in the Philippines got initiated after the United Nations women’s rights committee released a report on International Women’s Day saying the country failed to support and “violated the rights of the victims of Japan’s sex slavery.”

In 2019, the Pulitzer Center reported that about 1,000 Filipino women were made sex slaves during Japan’s occupation of the Philippines from 1942-45. Only about 10 victims were still alive. Historians estimate that Japanese forces victimized some 200,000 in the occupied Asian territories, particularly in Korea, Singapore, Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, and Taiwan.

Elderly Filipino women who said they were sex slaves of the Japanese Imperial Army, hold a rally in front of the Japanese embassy in Manila on Aug 14, 2015

Elderly Filipino women who said they were sex slaves of the Japanese Imperial Army, hold a rally in front of the Japanese embassy in Manila on Aug 14, 2015. (Photo: AFP)

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The high court in southern Indian Kerala state has refused to stay a lower court's order, which declared illegal the practice of endogamy among a section of Catholics. The court, however, agreed to hear an appeal challenging the lower court verdict issued last year.

Archbishop Mathew Moolakkatt of Kottayam filed the appeal for an Indigenous Catholic community in his archdiocese under the Eastern rite Syro-Malabar Church. Known as Knanaya Catholics, they do not accept members marrying outside their community to maintain the purity of blood.

A photo of Knanaya priests chanting Bar Maryam, an ancient East Syriac chant distinct to Knanaya Christians during a Knanaya wedding in the 1980's. (Photo: Wikipedia.org)

The community traces its origin to Jewish-Christian emigrants from Cana in Southern Mesopotamia who came to Kerala in AD 345. They say by not accepting those marrying outside their community they maintain the purity of lineage. They fear enforcement of the lower court order will destroy their ethnic identity.

Critics seeking reforms say “the cruel blood purity” practice has led to dismissal of thousands of community members and denial of Sacraments. Even today, many middle-aged persons remain unmarried due to a lack of brides and the fear of expulsion from the archdiocese if they marry outside it.

Catholics in conflict-torn Myanmar have defied odds and built a new church through the combined initiative of the local community and internally displaced people. St. Stephen Catholic Church at Lana village in Ding Sing parish of Kachin state was blessed by Bishop Raymond Sumlut Gam of Banmaw last Sunday.

The new church was much needed for the thousands of displaced persons who have sought refuge in the village near the China border since fleeing conflict in 2011. The brick-made church can accommodate about 200 Catholics and local Catholics donated around 25000 US dollars for the construction.

Local Catholics and internally displaced people gathered for the blessing of St.Stephen Catholic Church in Lana village, Kachin state on March 12. (Photo: Banmaw diocese OSC)

Before 2011, Lana village had about 40 Catholic and Buddhist families, but the influx of displaced people led to a significant rise in the Christian population. Recently, a new Baptist church has been built and opened in the village.

Rights groups estimate about 89,000 people are residing in camps across Christian-majority Kachin state after fleeing the fighting between the military and Kachin rebels.

Malaysia’s Youth and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh dismissed allegations from political rivals that her ministry’s program to visit houses of worship of various faiths was meant to convert Muslim youths.

Yeoh is a Christian lawmaker from the ruling Democratic Action Party and her rebuttal came during a speech in the parliament on Monday. She said the program by Impact Malaysia, a non-profit agency under the ministry, aims to promote a better understanding of the different races, religions, and cultures in Malaysia.

Malaysia’s Youth and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh said allegations from political rivals that her ministry's program on harmony was meant for the evangelization of Muslim youth are baseless. (Photo: Hannah Yeoh's Facebook page)

A Muslim politician and blogger, Badrul Hisham Shaharin, had earlier slammed the Impact Malaysia event and accused her of promoting Christian evangelization. Yeoh also lodged a police complaint against the politician for spreading false information about the program.

Yeoh and other Christian leaders in Malaysia have been targeted by Muslim politicians, activists, and Islamists who accused them of plotting to covert Muslims. A controversial book published in 2014 labeled Christians as “enemies of Islam.”

The South Korea-based Christian cult, Baby Garden Church, filed a court case seeking a ban on a Netflix drama that exposed the alleged dark sides of four religious cults and their leaders.

Baby Garden Church filed the plea for an injunction against last week’s streaming of two episodes of Netflix’s documentary series, “In the Name of God: A Holy Betrayal” featuring its founder-leader Kim.

Baby Garden church founder Kim Ki-soon (center) is seen in this file photo. She is among four religious cult leaders in South Korea featuring in a Netflix drama series on their controversial activities. (Photo: allkpop.com)

The eight-episode series presents four Korean religious cult leaders – Jeong Myeong-seok of Christian Gospel Mission, better known as Jesus Morning Star or JMS; Park Soon-ja of Odaeyang Church; Kim Ki-soon of Baby Garden Church; and Lee Jae-rock of Manmin Central Church.

The cult leaders claimed themselves to be the saviors of humanity. The series shows the controversial and illegal activities of cult leaders including fraud and sexual exploitation of young women. It made a stir in the country and prompted many members to sever their ties with the cults. 

A youth-led project in Japan started training prospecting women to help them contest in upcoming local elections to increase female participation in the parliament and reduce gender disparity in the country.

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The "Fiftys Project" was launched in 2022 and it currently assists 28 women to prepare for the campaigning and election process through study sessions and gatherings for the local election to be held this year. 

A voter casts her ballot in the Upper House election at a Tokyo polling station on July 10 last year. Only about 10 percent of lawmakers in Japan's 456-seat parliament are females. (Photo: AFP)

Global Gender Gap Report 2022 ranks Japan 139 among 146 countries on political empowerment of women. The proportion of women versus men in the lower house of Japan’s national assembly is less than 10 percent and has not shown much increase since women got voting rights in 1946.

Besides, a recent survey found about 50 percent of women face gender disparity at their workplace. Observers say the lack of females in politics and high levels of gender disparity reflects Japan's strongly-ingrained patriarchal social system despite being an economic powerhouse.

Tribal people in Indonesia’s Christian-majority Papua region filed a lawsuit against the state government for issuing oil palm plantation permits by annexing their ancestral lands. The Awyu tribal people filed the lawsuit in the Jayapura State Administrative Court over a permit given to PT Indo Asiana Lestari.

Tribal people alleged they were not informed about the lease and in the environmental impact analysis report. The company, allegedly controlled by the Malaysia-based All Asian Agro, obtained the permit to plant oil palm on 39,190 hectares in 2017.

Hendrikus Woro and Kasimilus Awe, representing the Awyu tribe, after filing the lawsuit against the government on March 13. (Photo: Greenpeace)

Local tribal people sought explanations over the project from state agencies, but no one responded. About 40 percent of the estimated 20,000 Awyu tribal people are Catholics, and the rest are Protestants. They inhabit the watershed of the Boven Digoel River in Papua province with their main livelihood as foragers and hunters.

Environmental groups warned that besides displacement of people, the company’s operations might trigger deforestation.

Cambodian Defense Minister Tea Banh has publicly backed the eldest son of Prime Minister Hun Sen as a candidate as the next premier and accused exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy of attempting to split the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.

Media reported the party had internal disputes within its ranks over the issue as the Southeast Asian nation gears up for national election in July.

Cambodia's Defence Minister Tea Banh gives a thumbs up from inside a Russian Mil Mi-171A2 helicopter during an airshow at a military airbase in Phnom Penh on Nov. 20, 2018. (Photo: AFP)

Rainsy, the exiled leader of the outlawed Cambodia National Rescue Party, had criticized the dynastic transition, and said he supported General Banh’s son, Tea Seiha, the acting governor of Siem Reap province, as future prime minister.

Defense minister Banh said he opposes Rainsy’s provocative message and said his family fully supports Hun Manet as the future prime minister. The ruling party led by long-running authoritarian Prime Minister Hun Sen is seeking another victory in the election as the opposition party was dissolved in 2017 and top party leaders are either jailed or facing trials.

Vatican’s Secretary for Relations with States Monsignor Paul Gallagher said the Vatican-China agreement on the appointment of bishops is “not the best deal possible” since the ball of good faith was with the Chinese government.

Gallagher made the comments during a recent interview with US-based EWTN journalist Colm Flynn. The Vatican-China agreement was first signed in 2018 for two years but renewed twice in 2020 and 2022.

Chinese Christians attend Christmas Eve mass at a Catholic church in Beijing, on Dec. 24, 2016. (Photo by WANG ZHAO / AFP)

The Vatican aims to unite an estimated 10 million Catholics in China, who stand divided into two churches – the state-run patriotic church and the underground church pledging allegiance to the Vatican. It also sought to end disputes over bishop appointments between the Vatican and China as both parties severed formal diplomatic relations after the communists seized power in 1949.

It allows the Chinese regime to accept or reject a bishop nominated by the Vatican. Rights groups and media reports say the Chinese regime has weaponized the deal to force Catholic clergy and laypeople to join the official church and continued to terrorize Catholics with an aim to dismantle the underground church.

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