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Memorials

Despite the prevalence of sexual violence across both war and peace, it has only rarely been commemorated in public memorials. Most dominant practices of war memorialisation, for example, silence conflict-related sexual violence altogether; and despite the hugely widespread occurrence of such violence in peacetime many survivors’ groups argue that it remains shrouded in a culture of silence. While such memorials are few, however, they are not non-existent, and indeed in recent years (in particular since 2010) there has been a significant increase in the number of these public monuments around the world. Many of these, in particular in South Korea but also in other parts of Asia and in the US, Canada, and Germany, are dedicated to the so-called ‘comfort women’ of the Asia-Pacific War: an estimated 50,000-200,000 young women, mostly although not entirely from Korea, compelled into sexual servitude by the Imperial Japanese military. Others remember sexual violence perpetrated against women (and, in some cases, also men and children) in other situations of war, as well as in peace. The map below shows the locations of public memorials remembering sexual violence around the world.

The empirical work of this research project focuses on six memorial projects located within the USA. Three commemorate peacetime sexual violence in the US itself, while the other three are dedicated to the memory of the comfort women. These projects are highlighted on the map below.

Comfort Women Memorial

Fort Lee, New Jersey

Stanford Contemplative Garden

Stanford Campus, Palo Alto, California

Column of Strength (Comfort Women Memorial)

San Francisco, California.

Survivors' Memorial

Boom Island Park, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Statue of Peace (Comfort Women Memorial)

Annandale, Virginia

Monument Quilt

Displayed on the National Mall in June 2019

Comfort Women Plaque

Palisades Park, New Jersey

Statue of Peace (Comfort Women Memorial)

Seoul

Comfort Women Memorial

Eisenhower Park, Westbury, New York.

Comfort Women Memorial Peace Garden

Fairfax, Virginia

Comfort Women Monument

Liberty Plaza, Union City, New Jersey

Statue of Peace (Comfort Women Memorial)

Korean American Cultural Center, Southfield, Michigan

Comfort Woman Statue

Gwangju

Comfort Women Memorial

Nanjing

Comfort Women Statue

Shanghai Normal University, Shanghai

Statue of Peace (Comfort Women Memorial) -

Sangju

Comfort Woman Statue

Bupyeong Park, Icheon

Statue of Peace (Comfort Women Memorial)

Croydon Park, New South Wales

Statue of Peace (Comfort Women Memorial)

Toronto

Statue of Peace (Comfort Women Memorial)

Busan

Comfort Women Statue

Nam District, Gwangju

Statue of Girl with Bird (Comfort Women Memorial)

Buk District, Gwangju

Statue of Peace (Comfort Women Memorial

Daegu

Statue of Peace (Comfort Women Memorial)

Wiesent, Bavaria

Statue of Peace (Comfort Women Memorial)

Brookhaven, Georgia

Statue of Girl with a Caterpillar and Butterfly (Comfort Women Memorial)

Geumcheon-gu, Seoul

Statue of Peace (Comfort Women memorial)

Yongin City

Comfort Women Statue

Tainan

Mother and Child Sculpture (Vietnam War Memorial)

St James Square, London

Comfort Women Memorial

Parañaque City

Memorial to missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls and sexual assault survivors

Millennium Park, Peterborough, Ontario.

Memorial to Victims and Survivors of Sexual Assault by Catholic Clergy

St Mary’s Church, Hamilton, New York State

National Memorial for Victims and Survivors of Institutional Child Sexual Abuse

Canberra (forthcoming)

Statue remembering the rape of Bangladeshi women by Pakistani soldiers during the 1971 Liberation War

Mujibnagar, Bangladesh

Statue of Peace (Comfort Women Memorial)

Glendale, California

Bronze plaque remembering victims of military sexual violence

Csongrád, Hungary

Comfort Women memorial obelisk

Miyako Island, Okinawa Prefecture, Japan.

Statue of Peace (Comfort Women Memorial)

Wiesent, Germany

Statue of Peace (Comfort Women Memorial)

Hamden, Connecticut

Heroinat Memorial

Pristina, Kosovo

Memorial to victims of sexual assault by catholic clergy

Hamilton, New York

Comfort Women Memorial

Kanita Women's Village

Bench commemorating victims of male violence

Trinity Square, Sutton

Continuous Voices memorial (forthcoming)

Victoria Park, Ballarat.

Antimonumenta

Plaza de Armas, Guadalajara,

Antimonumenta

In front of the Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Arts), Mexico City

Antimonumenta

In front of the municipal palace of Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl

Antimonumenta

Government Palace of Nuevo León, Monterrey

Vanessa Guillén Memorial Highway

State Highway 3, Houston Texas

The Vanessa Guillén Gate

Fort Hood, Texas

Vanessa Guillén murals

Multiple murals remembering Vanessa Guillén in parks around Houston, Texas

Statue of Peace (Friedensstatue) (Comfort Women Memorial)

Berlin, Germany

Statue of Peace (comfort women memorial)

Korean Society of Victoria, Melbourne

Ribbon Gate GBV Roadside Memorial

Tokai Forest, Cape Town

Memory of Rape in Wartimes: Women as Victims of Sexual Violence

Hunyadi János Street, District 1, Budapest

Sexual Assault Survivors Monument

Appleton, Wisconsin

Pink and black crosses honouring victims of femicide

Ciudad Juarez

Featured memorials

The Survivors' Memorial

The Survivors’ Memorial, situated in Boom Island Park, Minneapolis, was dedicated in October 2020. The first permanent memorial honouring victims of sexual violence in the United States, it is a large built structure which includes benches to sit on, and its design features mosaics and ripple effects.

Comfort Women Memorial Peace Garden

The Comfort Women Memorial Peace Garden in Fairfax, Virginia, was unveiled in 2014. It is located behind the Fairfax County Government Center, and was put up by the Washington Coalition for Comfort Women Issues. It features a boulder with a plaque, and two metal benches in the shape of butterflies.

The Monument Quilt

The Monument Quilt, a project by Force: Upsetting Rape Culture, is a collection of 30,000 pieces of red fabric, embroidered, painted, and written on by survivors of sexual violence and their allies. The Quilt has been displayed at multiple locations around the US, including a display on the National Mall in the summer of 2019, and the individual tiles can also be viewed online.

The Column of Strength

The Column of Strength in San Francisco, California, was established by the Comfort Women Justice Coalition in 2017. It consists of four human figures. Three are young women, in the traditional clothing of Korea, China, and the Philippines, who stand on a pedestal in a circle, holding hands and facing outwards. The forth figure depicts an older woman standing on the ground and looking up at the group on the pedestal, and represents Kim Hak-Sun, the first former Comfort Woman to speak out publicly about her experiences.

Stanford Contemplative Garden

The Contemplative Garden stands at the site of Brock Turner’s 2015 sexual assault against Chanel Miller on the Stanford University Campus. While Stanford built the garden in 2017, plans to include a plaque with words from Miller’s viral victim statement were stalled for over two years after the text could not be agreed. Students applied pressure over the plaque – some created the Dear Visitor project, which used AR to centre Miller’s words in the garden, others installed renegade plaques of their own. In late 2019, an official plaque with Miller’s chosen words was installed.

The Statue of Peace

The Statue of Peace in Annandale, Virginia, is one of multiple direct copies of the statue unveiled outside the Japanese embassy in Seoul in 2011. It was unveiled in Annandale by the Washington Coalition for Comfort Women Issues in 2019. The statue features a young girl, wearing traditional Korean dress, barefoot, seated and next to an empty chair. There is a bird on her left shoulder, and she casts a mosaic shadow of an elderly woman onto the ground behind her.