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“Mariana tapped her skin with her fingertips, mimicking the movement of a traditional tattoo needle. “Needle, needle, needle. Blood.””

The Indonesian woman of the Umatoos Island, like most of Southeast Asia were under Japanese occupation during World War II. The Japanese had a vicious campaign of forced sex slavery known as Jugun Lanfu. This movement was implemented due to the mass rape and murder of 300 000 women of Nanjing China while it was under siege. Woman were forced to be, soldiers’ concubines. To prevent this from ever happening again.

The Indonesia woman of Malaka culture, would tattoo themselves when they were married as a symbol of betrothal. Many intricate markings and designs would cover their bodies, done in the traditional stick and poke method. To prevent capture, young unmarried woman would tattoo themselves as well, the result being – not one of them were captured. They were marked as ‘taken’ by Japanese soldiers and were left alone.

Despite a rich history of intricate tattoos and overcoming oppressors, the tradition of tattooing in these tribes are dying out. The young woman of this tribe will not go through such pains to have their unions recognized. Slowly but surely the techniques and methods of these now elderly woman, is vanishing from their culture.

https://www.vice.com/en/article/3k9g8w/how-tattoos-saved-these-indonesian-women-from-sexual-slavery-in-world-war-ii