Sexual Harassment and Violence in Japan

Millions of women around the world use the “#MeToo” hashtag to share their experiences of sexual abuse, harassment and violence in an attempt to denounce sexual attacks and exploitation of women. Time magazine has even named them “Silence Breakers” Person of the Year in 2017.


Japan, however, hasn’t seen the #MeToo campaign hasn’t really been as successful as it has been in other countries. Last year, though, one woman spoke out about her own experience with sexual harassment months before the movement even began. Her name is Shiori Ito.


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“People often call me courageous, but in reality I felt I had no other choice than to speak out about my experience. I was terrified about what would happen and the backlash was greater than I could have ever anticipated.”, she said.


She continues to say that some people have called her a prostitute and that she should’ve been killed in the attack she experienced. Victim blaming is also a very popular justification for harassment. The comments that affected her most, surprisingly, came from other women.


In a book published in the 1970s titled “Blame the Victim,” the late psychologist William Ryan defines victim blaming as “justifying inequality by finding defects in the victims of inequality.”


Victim blaming comes from the idea that women need to protect themselves to avoid becoming victims and many attackers justify their attacks that the woman had provoked them into attacking.


SAFER (Sexual-Assault Free Environment and Resilience) is an established program for supporters of people who have experienced sexual violence.


Ito has now turned to the civil courts and is suing her alleged perpetrator for damages. Her alleged attacker, as usual, denies the allegations.


Japanese society is not yet ready to listen to victims of sexual harassment and violence but slowly and surely more and more women are speaking out loud against such horrendous acts.


Reference: Shifting attitudes toward sexual violence in Japan


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