Tokyo Tribunal On Women’s Sexual Enslavement


Rights & Democracy’s Ariane Brunet is in Tokyo to participate in the Women’s International War Crimes Tribunal, from 8-12 December, 2000.

Montreal, 04 December, 2000 – Rights & Democracy’s Ariane Brunet is in Tokyo to participate in the Women’s International War Crimes Tribunal, from 8-12 December.

International judges including Judge Gabrielle Kirk McDonald, former President of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and Rights & Democracy board member, Kenyan lawyer Willy Mutunga, will hear testimonies from some of the survivors of 200,000 second world war “comfort women” or sexual slaves of the Japanese Imperial Army, and then render a symbolic judgment. This public hearing will be followed by testimonies from women around the world – from Afghanistan to Rwanda – who have more recently faced situations of sexual slavery. Rights & Democracy has contributed financially to this special one-day public hearing. The Tribunal and public hearing are groundbreaking events in that no court has ever convicted a person on charges of sexual enslavement.

“Fifty years after the second world war, sexual slavery is still a scourge of women in various conflict situations,” said Ariane Brunet. As Coordinator of Rights & Democracy’s women’s rights programme, Ms. Brunet is a founding member of the international Women’s Caucus on Gender Justice, a group that has lobbied for a gender perspective in the creation of the International Criminal Court and has had a leading role in preparing the Tokyo Tribunal and the Public Hearing. “We hope that this Tribunal will bring home that this crime needs to be differentiated from rape, in that it is perpetrated repeatedly, over a long period of time, and its effects are even more devastating.”

With the level of legal expertise involved in the Tokyo Tribunal, the international legal community awaits with interest its pronouncements on the crime of sexual enslavement. There is particular interest from those observing the first attempt to address the crime of sexual enslavement in court, currently underway at the ICTY. Three Bosnian Serb men are standing trial for the rape, torture and sexual enslavement of Bosnian Muslim women in Foca, Bosnia, in 1992.

“We believe that this Tribunal could set a legal precedent, which has important implications for the women victims of sexual slavery the world over,” Ariane Brunet said.