Brookhaven, May 24, 2017 – The Atlanta Comfort Women Memorial Task Force announced the unanimous vote by the Brookhaven (Ga.) City Council to welcome the Young Girl’s Statue for Peace to the City of Brookhaven. The vote to permanently house the statue took place during its May 23, 2017 city council meeting. The memorial honors the 200,000 girls and women, euphemistically known as the ‘Comfort Women,’ who were trafficked and sexually enslaved throughout Asia during World War II by the Japanese Imperial Army.
“The Comfort Women tragedy is one the largest known cases of human and sexual trafficking in the 20th century. International human rights tribunals, United Nations groups and rapporteurs have all affirmed the history of the Comfort Women and that their fundamental human rights were violated,” said Brookhaven City Councilman John Park. “I know I speak for the City Council, when I say the City of Brookhaven is deeply honored to be the home for the Young Girl’s Statue for Peace. As we remember the history of these victims of human trafficking and enslavement, we bear witness to their suffering so that these atrocities never happen again.”
Councilman Park first championed the idea of welcoming the Comfort Women Memorial in Brookhaven and quickly Mayor Ernst and each City Council member enthusiastically agreed on the importance of such a remembrance on Brookhaven.
“By establishing this memorial, we are raising awareness of the ongoing problems of sexual and human trafficking taking place in metro Atlanta and the world today,” said Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst. “The City of Brookhaven is proud to join the growing list of progressive cities around the world that have already installed memorials in recognition of Comfort Women and their suffering. Brookhaven is now the first city in the state of Georgia and the deep south to publicly commit to the Comfort Women memorial, and we encourage other cities to join us in a strong, public stand against human trafficking.”
“Brookhaven has led our state in the fight against sex trafficking, which is a very serious problem,” said Tim Echols. “The history of the comfort women will help raise awareness and remind our community how prolific trafficking has been throughout the world.” Echols is the Statewide Advisor to the Atlanta Comfort Women Memorial Task Force, Georgia’s Public Service Commissioner, and long-time advocate on anti-sex trafficking.
Brookhaven is home to a diverse and vibrant community, where approximately 25 percent of residents are foreign born. The City was also the first city to join We’re Not Buying It, a national initiative to create a forum for all 50 states to collaborate and develop strategies that finally put an end to sex trafficking in the U.S.
The specific site will be determined and announced at a later date. The City plans to host an unveiling ceremony later this summer. The Task Force will also organize an educational event on the history of the Comfort Women and the connections with other local and international cases of sex trafficking.
“We are grateful for the courage, passion and commitment of the city officials of Brookhaven,” said Mr. Baik Kyu Kim, the Chair of the Atlanta Comfort Women Memorial Task Force. “It is our hope that this beautiful statue will bring much healing, peace and hope.”
Other U.S. cities that have established Comfort Women memorials include Palisades Park, New Jersey; Nassau, New York (2 memorials); Bergen City, New Jersey; Glendale, California; Southfield, Michigan; Fairfax, Virginia; Union City, New Jersey; San Francisco, CA; with efforts currently underway in Chicago.