"Comfort Women"

Hours before sunrise, I heard the prayers of the monks, the tapping on the hollow gourds keeping rhythm with their prayers. I began to feel the healing of the present, the comfort that worked to reconcile the horrors of the past. I photographed the "halmonis" (grandmothers) as I heard their stories, painted their nails, listened to their music, looked at their albums. Acknowledgement from the Japanese government in the form of legal reparations is the cornerstone of the halmonis' struggle. They continue to work toward ending the sexual violence that is far too often an accessory to war. And so these images are dedicated to all the women, living and passed, who served as "comfort women" during World War II, who gave their dignity, and often their lives, to systematized sexual slavery. I saw a profound strength and inner beauty in each of these women. They seemed to embody the idea of "the beautiful struggle." I bow to them.