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Vale Jan Ruff-O’Herne


World War II rape survivor, human rights activist, author and great-grandmother Jan Ruff-O’Herne AO has died at the age of 96.

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The International Peace Prize winner and decorated peace activist passed away peacefully surrounded by her family on August 19.

A committed Catholic and member of the Emmaus parish, Mrs Ruff-O’Herne received an Order of Australia and a papal honour in 2002. As an ambassador for the Year of Grace in 2012 she talked about how her faith had helped her survive her abuse by the Japanese.

Over the years she worked with the Human Rights Commission, International Red Cross and Amnesty International, sharing her story in Australia, New Zealand, Japan, USA, UK, the Netherlands and many other countries.

Mrs Ruff O’Herne’s autobiography, Fifty Years of Silence, published by Random House has been translated into six different languages, including Japanese, Indonesian, Indian, Chinese and Korean.

South Australian Attorney General Vickie Chapman said Mrs Ruff-O’Herne was an inspiration of her generation, bringing to light her extraordinary story of survival in 1992 after seeing Korean War rape victims making appeals for justice on television.

“We pay tribute to her courage for breaking her 50 years of silence to tell the world of her pain, both physical and psychological, during the Japanese invasion of Indonesia in World War II,” Ms Chapman said.

“Jan Ruff-O’Herne has worked determinedly for decades to support the plight of ‘comfort women’ and for the protection of women in war and armed conflict.”


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