Rosa Henson

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Maria Rosa Luna Henson
RosaHensonPCIJ.jpg
Maria Rosa Luna Henson in March 1996
Born 1927
Died 1997
Other names "Lola Rosa"

Maria Rosa Luna Henson or "Lola Rosa" (Grandma Rosa) (1927- 1997) was the first Filipina to tell the world of her story as a comfort woman for the Imperial Japanese Army during World War II.

Her story[edit]

In 1992, when Henson was 65, she decided it was time to tell the world about her experience during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines in World War II. Until 1992, only two people had known of her secret, her late mother and her dead husband. After coming out publicly with her story, Lola Rosa decided to write about her war-time experience. The result was the book, Comfort Woman: A Slave of Destiny.

In Comfort Woman: A Slave of Destiny, Lola Rosa provided an achingly straightforward voice to the erstwhile silent and invisible existence of Filipino comfort women. Almost 200 Filipino women soon followed Rosa’s example as they decided to reveal themselves and their personal stories for the first time—not only to the world, but to their families as well. Other victims, including those from Korea and China, joined the Filipino women to file a class action lawsuit against the Japanese government. Together, they demanded justice in the form of a formal apology from the Japanese government; the inclusion of all the war-time atrocities committed by the Japanese into Japan’s school history books; and monetary reparations to compensate for all the abuses and violence committed against the women.

However, the Japanese government denied legal responsibility and refused to pay the victims. Later, responding to the growing pressure of continued protests and appeals by the survivors and their supporters, Japan finally set up the Asian Women’s Fund (AWF) in 1995 to collect money from private Japanese citizens, and offered them to the victims as “atonement payments.” Henson died of a heart attack in 1997, a year after her autobiography was published, and after she decided to accept the money from the AWF.

Historical Marker, Plaza Lawton, Liwasang Bonifacio, Manila

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