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The article examines the use of Peoples' Tribunals in seeking access to justice where none has been possible through more formal methods. It uses as illustration the Women's International War Crimes Tribunal that sought justice for the so-called comfort women, the primarily Asian women who were subjected to sexual slavery by the Japanese military before and during World War Two. The article briefly recounts the fate of the comfort women and then considers the legal and practical obstacles they faced in accessing justice at the end of the War. It outlines how towards the end of the 20th century the survivors broke their silence about these events and unsuccessfully sought justice through national and international mechanisms. The Women's Tribunal was created out of the failure to receive appropriate redress. From this particular example the article discusses more generally the concept of Peoples' Tribunals in delivering justice (especially gender justice) and assesses whether such institutions of civil society have any legitimate and effective role in providing justice where none has been given by the state.