She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.
She is currently Vice-Chair of the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women, a representative on the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan and a visiting professor at the Graduate School of NGO Studies, Kyung Hee University in Seoul. Ms Shin is a past winner of the 1st Women’s Human Rights Award – Women, Law and Development International, Washington DC. (full text).
She says: “We have established that rape and sexual slavery during wartime are violations of women’s rights and should be punished. Because of our movement, hopefully such a thing will never happen again”.
Heisoo Shin – South Korea
She is in the executive committee of the ‘Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan‘, (Homepage). She works for the Korea Women’s HotLine, and for the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law & Development.
- United Nations: Reconciling Tradition With Progress Main Challenge For Vanuatu’s Women, Anti-Discrimination Committee Told, May 19, 2007;
- United Nations: Emerging From Civil War, Sierra Leone Faces Serious Challenges Implementing Women’s Anti-Discrimination Convention, May 19, 2007; Expert Committee Told.
- Violence against women, situation of minorities … Serbia’s first ever report, May 16, 2007.
Heisoo Shin has been a leader in bringing the issues of sexual slavery and other women’s human rights abuses to the forefront of the international justice agenda. She served for seven years as president of Hotline for Women in Need, created to receive information from women forced to serve as sexual slaves by the Japanese military in World War II.
She is a leading member of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, and is vice-chair of the Commission on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
Heisoo Shin has been a leader in bringing the issues of sexual slavery and other women’s human rights abuses to the forefront of the international justice agenda. She served for seven years as president of Hotline for Women in Need, created to receive information from women forced to serve as sexual slaves by the Japanese military in World War II. She is a leading member of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, and is vice-chair of the Commission on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women. She received her B.A. in English Language and Literature and an M.A. in Sociology from Ewha Womans Unversity and Ph.D. from Rutgers University.
During the military dictatorship in the 1970s and early 1980s, Heisoo Shin worked for the recovery of democracy, joining the demonstrations and helping families of political prisoners. During this period, she also organized young women and aided in their developing a feminist consciousness through her work at two women’s organizations. After returning to Korea in 1991 with a Ph.D. in sociology, she joined again the women’s movement, while teaching as a professor. Throughout the 1990s, she led the nationwide campaigns for the enactment of sexual violence law and the two laws on domestic violence.
Heisoo is one of the world’s leading experts on the sexual slavery of Korean women by the Japanese military during World War II, the so-called ‘comfort women’. Over the past 14 years, she has been an important leader nationally, regionally and internationally, including the UN, in the movement to bring justice to the survivors. She has relentlessly raised the issue, attending conferences, getting signatures, organizing NGO briefings and forums at the UN and other venues. Once, the former UN Commission on Human Rights Special Rapporteur on violence against women, Dr. Radhika Coomaraswamy, told her friends that ‘everywhere I turn, there is Heisoo to lobby me’.
In fact, when Dr. Coomaraswamy was appointed as the special rapporteur in 1994, Heisoo flew to Colombo to meet her and requested to conduct a mission on the issue of military sexual slavery by Japan. She did not know her personally, but accepted her request. In July 1995, Dr. Coomaraswamy visited South Korea, North Korea and Japan, met with the surviving victims and other relevant groups of people. The report of her findings was published and adopted by the UN Commission on Human Rights in 1996, despite the fierce efforts by Japan to block it. In December 2004, Heisoo and her colleagues launched the Foundation Committee for War and Women’s Human Rights Museum and are hoping to complete construction of the Museum by 2007.
Heisoo’s involvement with the UN Commission on Human Rights, however, began in 1992. Earlier that year, she joined the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan, a network of 21 women’s organizations founded in 1990 in Korea. As the chairperson of International Relations Committee of the Korean Council, she first attended in August 1992 the Sub-Commission on Human Rights, with a surviving victim and two other representatives of the Korean Council. The public testimony by the survivor, press conference, and Heisoo’s oral intervention, explaining the atrocities and human rights violations of the 200,000 women from Asia and the Netherlands during the World War II, helped expose the issues of war crimes, violence against women, sexual slavery, impunity, state accountability, and so on.
Heisoo’s role in the Commission/Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women is also an important aspect of her peace work. She is central in the effort to monitor the world’s conditions for women. Formed in 1982, the Commission is comprised of 23 experts on women’s issues from around the world. At meetings held twice annually, the Commission reviews data and makes recommendations for services or legislation that will protect women against personal and institutional violence. (1000PeaceWomen).
Read: Commission on the status of women, 49th session.
Read: UNESCAP expert group meeting.
Look at the Power Point of UN Secretary-General’s In-depth study on all forms of violence against women.
Read: CEDAW and Women’s Human Rights, a 14 pages pdf-text.
Look at: the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, January 2003.
Summary – Panel 2, Women and Resistance: Grassroots and Global Activism;
General Assembly, WOM/1592;