Women in the Vietnam War
The Vietnamese women have a vital impact on the Vietnam War. They were actively defending their country by taking on a large variety of roles.
Their slogan was “when war comes, even women must fight” and they did. Millions of women joined the army during the Vietnam War and gave a strong fight in the battle. The women of the Viet Cong (the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam) impacted the most because they were the guerilla fighters at the forefront. Women were spies, logistic and administrational worker, medical care and of course combat fighters on the Ho Chi Ming trail.
Civilian women had their impact in war journalism and made significant contribution in leading an anti-war campaign. They took on more roles in the economy and increasing legal women’s rights in Vietnam.
This doesn’t mean that the women didn’t face significant level of discrimination. During and after the war women were often the target of war crimes like sexual violence and abduction. After the war the reintegration of female veterans into civilian society was difficult because their contribution was not recognized. The rights that the women achieved during the war were stripped of them and society was dealing with the aftermath of the war. The Vietnamese government dealt poorly with the victims of sexual violence. The Lai Dai Han (half-Korean children) whose mothers were violated and traumatized were pushed out of society instead of getting help.
Violence against women and war crimes
A widespread war crime that was committed against Vietnamese women was the strategical rape. Because of the shame that comes with rape, sexual violence was rarely reported and therefore rarely convicted. Raping female guerrilla fighters of the Viet Cong was seen prove of masculinity in the war zone. Civilian and combat women were routinely raped and then murdered by South Korean soldiers during the Vietnam War.
The term Lai Dai Han emerged because of all the mixed raced children that were born to a South Korean men and Vietnamese mothers. They are an estimated 5’000-30’000 Lai Dai Han. The Lai Dai Han and their mothers that are still waiting for an apology by the South Korean government.
The Korean war crimes were investigated and evaluated by the tribunal. The judge of the tribunal demanded in 2018 that the South Korean government pay compensation and formally apologize to the victims.
These are the exact words used:
- South Korea Government as defendant shall do to plaintiff.
a. to pay the reparation by the article 3 on the law of national reparation.
b. to recognize the legal responsibility and issue the official statement for the recovery of the dignity, honour, and rights of plaintiff.
- The tribunal urges to South Korea Government as defendant to investigate damages including murder, violence, injury, sexual violence and other any cases by Korean troops in Vietnam during 1964 to 1973.
- South Korea Government as defendant, hereafter, shall exhibit the result of investigation as above at War Memorial of Korea, located 29 Itaewon-ro Yongsan Seoul, which exhibits the participation of Korean troops in Vietnam War as honour and all other official infrastructures or areas to exhibit of the Korean troops participation of Vietnam War.
Until this day South Korea has not apologized to Vietnam and their women and they never acknowledged their wrongdoing.