MAEVe seminar series: Semester Two

This semester, MAEVe will hold a Tuesday fortnightly* seminar series featuring presenters on diverse topics relevant to the question of ending violence against women and their children.

These seminars are held between 1pm-2pm at the Melbourne Law School, 185 Pelham Street, Carlton. No bookings required.

For our next session, we will joined by Kate McGregor for a seminar titled “Researching the Indonesian so called ‘comfort women’ during the Japanese Occupation of the Netherlands East Indies: Between the Archives and Testimonial Accounts”. The location will be Room 920.


To date analyses of the experiences of Indonesian so called ‘comfort women’, who were abused during the Japanese Occupation of the Netherlands East Indies have focused largely on either piecing together fragmentary documentary evidence from Dutch or Japanese archives or on more extensive use of the testimonies of surviving women often provided many years after the occupation. Rarely have these sources been combined together. Scholars working on this history face multiple challenges including not only linguistic restrictions, but how to combine these sources which have often been produced for discrete purposes. In the Japanese case this included reports prepared for the invasion; in the Dutch case it included documenting crimes against the Dutch or treasonous behaviour; and in the case of human rights activists it included documenting women’s stories in their own right and the details of crimes against the women. In this paper I will survey the documentary and testimonial evidence available and provide examples of some of the nuances of Dutch and Indonesian women’s experiences of sexual violence during the occupation. I argue that both forms of evidence are very important, but following feminist methodologies is it also necessary to try to contextualize women’s actions, experiences and the constraints they faced as women living through a military occupation.


Associate Professor Kate McGregor is a historian of Indonesia. Her research interests include Indonesian historiography, memories of violence, the Indonesian military, Islam and identity in Indonesia and historical international links between Indonesia and the world. She teaches in the areas of Southeast Asian history, the history of violence and Asian thematic history. Kate is currently undertaking an Australian Research Council Future Fellowship on the project: Confronting Historical Injustice in Indonesia: Memory and Transnational Human Rights Activism examining the cases of Indonesian victims of human rights crimes during the Japanese occupation; the independence struggle and the 1965 repression. She has published widely on the topic of Indonesian memory, transnational political activism and historical justice. She is a member of the Steering Committee for the Alliance for Historical Dialogue and Accountability and a Board Member for the Herb Feith Foundation.

*seminars are fortnightly with the exception of holidays - see the timetable below for precise dates:

24 October920Gender and Activism for Indonesian Survivors of Enforced Military Prostitution during the Japanese Occupation of the Netherlands East IndiesKate McGregor
14 November202Intervention Orders Online: Early Results of an Evaluation of the Online Application for FVIOs in Three Magistrates' Courts

*Please note new venue*
Stuart Ross
28 November224Violence Against Women in Indian Print MediaAmanda Gilbertson