Comfort women is the term used for the systematic sexual exploitation of women and girls that took place under the Japanese Empire 1932–1945. It has been estimated that the system comprised anything from 20 000 to 400 000 women at some 2 000 different “comfort stations” and this is described today as either slavery or prostitution.

80 years later, the women who were sexually exploited by the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II are still waiting for legal recognition. Anna-Karin Eriksson describes the issue as being stuck in a deadlock. In her dissertation, she points out how important it is to view historical events from a larger perspective – also current events like the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The system with comfort women for the Imperial Japanese Army came into being due to three main reasons, says Anna-Karin Eriksson who recently defended her doctoral thesis on this topic within the subject of political science at Linnaeus University.

“They wanted to reduce the number of rapes that took place where the Japanese Empire advanced. They also wanted to reduce the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, by controlling the women. It was also seen as a sort of relaxation after warfare, as recreation.”

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Anna-Karin Eriksson, doctoral student, +46 73-718 95 55,

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