Press Release
March 13, 2023

Hontiveros: Reparations, amends must be made to comfort women and their families

Senator Risa Hontiveros on Monday filed Proposed Senate Resolution Number 539, urging the government to ensure just and meaningful reparations are given to Filipino comfort women and their families.

The resolution comes after the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women recently ruled that the Philippines failed to fulfill its treaty obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) when it did not seek redress for comfort women, the wartime victims of sexual violence perpetrated by the Japanese Imperial Army.

"Reparations to victim-survivors are long past due. Many of them have already passed away and the few who remain are in their twilight years, making it all the more critical for the Philippine government to take immediate measures that can tangibly support these women and their families," Hontiveros said.

The senator, who has authored laws against sexual violence, abuse, and exploitation, added that "we cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the plight of these women who have suffered and have borne this pain for decades."

The nonprofit organization Malaya Lolas, which consists of Filipino survivors of sex slavery, asserted to the UN Committee that the failure of the Philippine government to press the Japanese government for reparations resulted in continuing discrimination.

The complainants also alleged that the failure of the government to take up their cause is tantamount to a breach of its treaty obligations to "adopt appropriate legislative and other measures to prohibit all discrimination against women, and protect women's rights on an equal basis with men."

"I laud the UN Committee for recognizing that sexual violence against women and girls during war is indeed a violation of women's rights. The experiences of the comfort women have caused them undue shame and trauma that they have had to live through most of their lives. The least our government can do is help them and their families as they carry on in their healing," Hontiveros said, stressing that the victim-survivors were repeatedly subjected to rape, torture, and inhumane detention conditions during World War II.

"As we celebrate Women's Month, may the bravery of the survivors inspire more women to push back against abuse in all its forms. I proudly stand with these women who had the courage to share their stories, stand up for their rights, and demand justice. Their fight is our fight, too," Hontiveros concluded.


Please see attached Proposed Senate Resolution No. 539

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