National

Famed ‘comfort woman’ dies in Adelaide

By AAP Newswire

World War II rape survivor and human rights activist Jan Ruff-O'Herne has died in Adelaide aged 96.

Ms Ruff-O'Herne was one of the so-called "comfort women" who were repeatedly raped and beaten by occupying Japanese soldiers after the invasion of Indonesia.

"Her story of survival is a tribute to her strength and courage, and she will be sorely missed not only here in South Australia, but around the world," SA Attorney-General Vickie Chapman said on Tuesday.

Ms Ruff-O'Herne died on Monday surrounded by her family.

She famously broke decades of silence in 1992 and told her story after being moved by the plight of Korean War rape victims as they made appeals for justice.

In 1994 she published a memoir which documented her struggles and then in 2007 Ms Ruff-O'Herne went to Washington to give testimony before a US congressional panel.

The panel overwhelmingly endorsed a resolution urging Japan to apologise for coercing the women to work as sex slaves during the war.

Ms Chapman said Ms Ruff-O'Herne had worked determinedly for decades to support the plight of all "comfort women" and for the protection of women in war and armed conflict.

"I have always admired her extraordinary capacity to forgive and her preparedness to break her silence and to tell the world of her suffering in the hope that it will assist future generations to protect the women and children of today and of the future," she said.

"She has worked with the Human Rights Commission, International Red Cross, and Amnesty International, speaking in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, the US and UK, the Netherlands and many other countries, sharing her incredible story."

Ms Ruff-O'Herne was made an Officer in the Order of Australia in 2002 and in 2004 received a centenary medal from Prime Minister John Howard for her contribution to Australian society.