A memorable CWRIC testimony of an unjust situation

Transcripts available in the following languages:

There’s a testimony by a witness who was only sixteen years old at the time. She related that when they got to camp that they were required to strip down naked, and that some doctor or some health official, if indeed he was, conducted a vaginal examination of all the girls. And she said, “I was one of them.”

Now in this age, today, where things are kind of free and loose, people might shrug their shoulders and say, “Okay, so what?” But by the standards of 1942, and particularly by the standards of the Nikkei community, not withstanding the fact that presumably the Nikkei engaged in bathing co-ed at night in the ofuro [public bath house], I was very aware of the sensitivity of not exposing your body.

And that when this girl testified about having a vaginal examination made, to me it was a very serious encroachment—very grave encroachment. That stuck with me. I thought to myself, why did you even dare examine these people? I mean, these people didn’t come out of some leper colony. These were ordinary Americans living in a community like anybody else, and you had to bring them in together, and you’re now conducting a vaginal examination! How dare you? How dare you? And that stuck very much in my mind.

Date: August 27, 1998
Location: Pennsylvania, US
Interviewer: Darcie Iki, Mitchell Maki
Contributed by: Watase Media Arts Center, Japanese American National Museum

CWRIC incarceration internment redress

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