International Peace Prize winner Jan Ruff-O’Herne lists treasured Kingswood home

International Peace Prize winner Jan Ruff-O’Herne lists treasured Kingswood home

AN International Peace Prize winner who was imprisoned and abused in a military brothel during World War II is selling her Kingswood home where she wrote her acclaimed memoir Fifty Years of Silence.

Jan Ruff-O’Herne, 96, is the last survivor of a group of seven young women forcibly removed from a Java prisoner of war camp in February, 1944, where she was systematically raped for several months by Japanese soldiers (read more about here story here).


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For 50 years, the South Australian local told no one what had happened to her, but in 1992, after seeing Korean War rape victims making appeals for justice on television, she decided to speak out and support them as a human-rights activist, and tell her own story in a tell-all-book.

A book that came to life in her family home at 31 Tutt Ave, Kingswood, which is now for sale though Harcourts VennMillar.

“I lived in my house for 52 happy years and wrote my book Fifty years of Silence page by page on the kitchen table,” she says.

“But my favourite room is the formal living and dining room where I gave many large parties and dinners for family and friends.

“I also later built on a second little living area for my grandchildren to play in.”

Purchased by Mrs Ruff-O’Herne and husband Thomas Ruff in 1966, the circa 1914-built villa sits on a 557sqm block and features three bedrooms, one bathroom, an open-plan living and dining space with open fireplaces, and a separate kitchen at the rear.

“Some of my fondest memories have been raising my family in this house which sits in a beautiful leafy location close to shops, movie theatres, cafes and a library. We also had many lovely walks to Brownhill Creek and Mitcham Village,” Mrs Ruff-O’Herne says.

“I was drawn to this area because of the beautiful surroundings and view of the hills but it was also close to St Joseph’s School Kingswood where I was a teacher.”

Selling agent Stephen Venn, who will take the property to auction on Saturday, February 16 with a price guide of $710,000, says the home would be ideal for young professional or tradespeople.

“The home is very liveable but does need some updating to bring it into 2019,” he says.

“So I think this home could suit young couples or anyone not afraid to put some work into it and to extend it further.”

*Mrs Ruff-O’Herne’s autobiography, Fifty Years of Silence, was published by Random House in 2008 and has been translated into six languages.

Her work in protecting the rights of women in war and armed conflict also saw her awarded an Officer of the Order of Australia, an Anzac Peace prize, a Papal Honour, an International Peace Prize and a Red Cross Award.

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