Mary D. Fan, The Fallacy of the Sovereign Prerogative to Set De Minimis Liability Rules for Sexual Slavery, 27 YALE J. INT’L. L. 395 (2002), https://digitalcommons.law.uw.edu/faculty-articles/653
The Fallacy of the Sovereign Prerogative to Set De Minimis Liability Rules for Sexual Slavery
Forced Prostitution, Sexual Slavery, Slavery Treaties, Comfort Women
Although several treaties prohibited slavery by the early twentieth century, forced prostitution was treated as distinct from slavery and considered a domestic issue on which each sovereign state could legislate independently. The article explores the sovereign's prerogative to determine whether to set property or liability rules for sexual slavery. May bodies -- typically women's bodies -- be taken by force with compensation set ex post in liability rules by the state? Or do property rules prohibit such conscription? The article argues that while historically, it was the sovereign's prerogative to set property or liability rules, an international property rule protecting all human bodies -- including women used as sexual slaves -- has emerged. The Comment explores the import of this legal evolution for the cognizability of suits brought by women forced into sexual slavery by Imperial Japan in the World War II era.