Reader’s Theatre: November 11
Chinese "Comfort Women"
By Cindy Patten, SD 68, 2005 ALPHA Study Tour Participant
Reader 1: On November 11 we take time to remember those who gave their lives in past wars for our freedom today.
Reader 2: Often we remember the fallen soldiers and other passed victims of the Second World War.
Reader 3: We associate swastikas and Hitler most strongly with the motto “Lest We Forget.” Sometimes it is easiest not to recognize what we see currently happening in the world as being “real”.
Readers 1-5: But it is! War and suffering continue today!
Reader 4: Many survivors of war who need to be remembered and who are not veterans are still alive today.
Reader 5: We would like to tell the story of one woman who survived the invasion of China by the Japanese military in 1937. It is stories like this that also need to be heard, “lest we forget” that they could happen again.
Readers 1-5: Just imagine…
Reader 1: Hundreds of thousands of girls in Asia, including an estimated 200,000 Koreans and another 200,000 Chinese who were forced into military sexual slavery by the Japanese military during the Second World War.
Readers 1-4: Just imagine…
Reader 2: Madam S is barely 4 feet tall. When she sits down, her short legs don’t even touch the ground. She thinks she is about 88 years old now, but she’s not sure. Time and a life of pain have not been kind to her.
Readers 1-3: Just imagine…
Reader 3: She remembers escaping marriage as a child bride at the age of 15. When she returned to her family they could not support her.
Readers 1-2: (incredulous) Can you imagine your family sending you away?
Reader 4: Her fate in China was sealed when the Japanese military paid for her brother to get married, and she was sent to a “dining hall” to earn money to support herself. She was told she could make a fortune.
Readers 2-3: But her fortune was terrible…
Reader 1: This was the start of years of hellish existence for her. The “dining hall” was no restaurant or cafeteria service. It was a comfort station, housing dozens of young, unmarried girls who were horribly abused daily.
Readers 3-5: She still has nightmares…
Reader 2: As she told us how she fought back every day, her voice suddenly became strong, young, forged of steel.
Reader 3: (slowly, loudly, deliberately, proudly) “I was young and tough at the time,”
Reader 4: she said with pride. Her body, however, is not. She still bears the evidence of the atrocities: she lives with many cracked vertebrae and scars from knife wounds and gun butt beatings.
Reader 5: Her voice cracked as she said,
Reader 3: “if the Japanese military hadn’t cheated us I wouldn’t have come to China. I miss my hometown. I miss my family.”
Readers 1: In the 60 years since the end of the war, she has not been back to her home town, her home country
Readers 1-5: Even once.
Reader 2: As was her will to survive, her ongoing strength is phenomenal, almost super-human.
Reader 4: She was a victim; today she is a survivor and easily, a warrior in her own right.
Reader 5: She married a Chinese veteran and raised a family in China. Her husband treated her well until he died in the 1990’s. Now her daughter takes care of her.
Reader 1-5: “We had a tough life at that time.”
Reader 3: Can you imagine that life?
Readers 4-5: Does her story have a happy ending? We want a happy ending.
Reader 1: Madam S went on to lead a long life that includes a family of her own, but she will not – cannot - forget.
Reader 2: She still has nightmares and her physical wounds hurt every moment as her mind and body continue to give silent testimony to her life as a “comfort woman”.
Reader 3: What an awful story.
Reader 4: Such a tragedy.
Reader 5: It wouldn’t happen today, would it?
Reader 3: Yes! It does! It is!
Readers 1-5: But what can I do?
Readers 2-5: How does it help to remember?
Readers 2-4: Why is Madam S’s story important?
Readers 3-4: It was so long ago, what does it matter today?
Reader 3: (loudly, with conviction) We cannot live in a world that neglects the cries of its people!
Reader 4: (loudly, with conviction) We cannot forget this woman’s life.
Reader 5: (loudly, with conviction) “Lest We Forget” and it happens again!
Reader 1: (loudly, with conviction) I will lead by example,
Readers 1-2: (loudly, with conviction) We will be informed!
Readers 1-3: (loudly, with conviction) We will care!
Readers 1-4: (loudly, with conviction) We will be the best people we can be, to ourselves and to others
Readers 1-5: (huge, powerful voices) So that we can make the world a better place!