- Narrating the Right to Sexual Well-being and the Global Management of Misery: Maria Rosa Henson's Comfort Woman and Charlene Smith's Proud of Me
- Literature and Medicine
- Johns Hopkins University Press
- Volume 24, Number 2, Fall 2005
- pp. 153-180
- View Citation
- Additional Information
Within the human rights regime, violations are managed through a juridical model that divides people into victims (based on identity categories) and perpetrators, thereby focusing on individuals rather than on systems of inequalities. Rights campaigns depend upon victim stories to build a case, gain public attention, bring perpetrators to account, and raise money for rights activism. The recent turn to the right to "health," however, foregrounds the importance of addressing the structural conditions of immiseration that produce injury and harm and negatively impact even those who have been formally granted civil and political rights. Focusing on two narratives published as part of campaigns organized to confront violence against women—Filipina Maria Rosa Henson's Comfort Woman: A Filipina's Story of Prostitution and Slavery under the Japanese Military (1999) and South African Charlene Smith's Proud of Me: Speaking Out Against Sexual Violence and HIV (2001)—this essay explores the capacity of autobiographical narration to dislodge the "grammar" of victimization and expose the densities of structural violence.