Segments in this Video

Because We Were Beautiful: Indonesian Comfort Women Tell Their Stories: Introduction & Title (03:19)

A group of Indonesian women describe themselves when they were young, some suspecting that the Japanese chose them because they were beautiful.

When the Japanese Came (03:49)


A few of the interviewed women describe what it was like when the Japanese arrived. The viewer is then introduced to Hilde Janssen and Jan Banning who are touring Indonesia to speak to these former comfort women.

Tasmina's Story of Betrayal (03:41)

Some more women speak of how they were taken by the Japanese. Tasmina speaks of how she went with them willingly in order to work, only to be betrayed when she realized they were simply going to use her body.

Kasinem's Story of Her Fear (02:03)

Kasinem tells the story of how she was taken when she was 10 years old. She would powder her face and have to behave normally even though she was in perpetual fear.

Forced to "Play Wife" (02:30)

Kasinem tells how the soldiers would sleep with her and talk to her as though she were one of their wives. She sadly admits that there was nothing she could do to resist, being a girl, and so young.

Suharti's Story of Being Taken (03:06)

Suharti tells of how she was taken to the brothel by the village chief when she was 11 or 12 years old. She tells of how they were treated like dogs, and beaten if they didn't comply with orders.

Fear, Shame and Threats (02:26)

A few women talk about their experiences, discussing their ignorance of sex, the pain involved and the threat of gruesome death if they didn't comply.

Iteng Revisits the Site (02:07)

Iteng travels with the producers to the building where she was imprisoned and raped. She talks of how she was raped immediately and suffered in great pain, crying all the time.

"Rescued" by a Doctor (02:40)

She says she was forced to have sex there for about 5 months before she was taken away by a doctor. While she was no longer being used for sex by the army, she still slept with the doctor.

Tugira, Forced to Perform for Soldiers (03:03)

Tugira tells her story of how she had to perform Odori song and dance for the soldiers, which she still remembers to this day. While they enjoyed her performances, she, too, was forced to sleep with the men.

Use of Contraceptives (03:22)

The women explain that the Japanese would use condoms and that nobody got pregnant. If there was any fear of pregnancy the girls were given a medicine to take to prevent it.

Paini Describes Pretending to Love (02:47)

Paini tells the story of her time with a lieutenant named Harukuma. She says she resisted at first, and he forced her, and eventually she learned to stop resisting and simply "pretended to be in love."

Paini and Sarmi's Shared Secret (02:53)

It comes to light through Paini and Sarmi's stories that many of the women have kept their time as comfort women a secret out of shame and discomfort.

Concerns of the Comfort Women (03:42)

One woman describes the sorts of things she and other girls like her would worry about while in the brothels. Sanikem talks about how no matter how good looking the soldiers might have been, she hated them all.

Comfort Girls Return Home (02:19)

The women describe their stories as the Japanese left. Australian and American soldiers also wished to use the brothels after the Japanese withdraw, but the girls were leaving, trying to find their way back to their homes.

Enduring the Shame and Secrecy (02:40)

Some of the girls formed pacts with other girls in their brothel to never admit the truth of what happened. Others were less fortunate and were considered cast-offs by their village.

Sin and Forgiveness (03:45)

A few of the women discuss how they continue to hide the truth of what happened. Some view being raped as a sin, others still live with neighbors calling them a "Japanese cast-off," and others just wish to forget.

Because We Were Beautiful: Indonesian Comfort Women Tell Their Stories: Credits (01:41)

Because We Were Beautiful: Indonesian Comfort Women Tell Their Stories: Credits

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Because We Were Beautiful: Indonesian Comfort Women Tell Their Stories

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During World War II, a number of women in Japanese-occupied countries were forced to become sexual companions in military barracks and encampments. What they endured was kept secret for decades, even by the victims, out of shame. Today, these so-called comfort women are being sought out and given a chance to tell their stories—perhaps finding a degree of healing while raising awareness of one of the great horrors of warfare. This film represents just such an effort, featuring several Indonesian women who faced systematic rape and humiliation during the Japanese occupation. In their own words, they describe what happened to them and how it shaped their lives afterwards. (Portions in other languages with English subtitles, 52 minutes)

Length: 53 minutes

Item#: BVL45482

ISBN: 978-1-62102-267-1

Copyright date: ©2010

Closed Captioned

Reviews & Awards

Featured showing at the 2013 American Psychological Association Convention

Performance Rights

Prices include public performance rights.

Only available in USA and Canada.