crime

Women speak out about sexual violence after Great East Japan Earthquake

39 Comments
By SoraNews24

As March 11 approaches, people around Japan are now reflecting on the Great East Japan Earthquake that occurred on this day ten years ago, and remembering all the thousands of lives that were forever affected by the disaster.

Last Thursday night, Japan’s national television broadcaster NHK shone a light on some of the victims by rebroadcasting a documentary from last year, entitled “Buried Voices 25 Years of Truth-Sexual Violence in the Event of a Disaster."

The 45-minute documentary featured interviews with supporters who have been working hard to eradicate sexual violence in Japan, not only after the 2011 earthquake but following the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake that devastated the Kobe area in 1995.

Sexual violence in the wake of disasters has been widely documented around the world, but here in Japan, the issue has been largely overlooked, with Japan’s first full-scale survey into the issue only conducted after the Great East Japan Earthquake.

The survey outlined 82 individual incidents of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and unwanted sexual contact. Many of the victims were single, separated, divorced or widowed women, with a number of cases involving quid pro quo types of assault, where individuals were exploited for sex in return for resources like food and shelter.

Yorisoi Hotline was set up in March 2012 as a free 24-hour women’s-only phone consultation service to help locals with any problems following the disaster. Out of over 360,000 calls received from 2013 to 2018, more than half the consultations were found to be related to sexual violence in the three badly affected areas of Fukushima, Iwate, and Miyagi prefectures.

Shocking testimonies from victims included (trigger warning, graphic testimonies):

“A man in temporary housing gradually went crazy and caught a woman and stripped her naked in a dark place. The people around didn’t help her and pretended not to see it, saying, 'It can’t be helped because they’re young.'” (Woman in her 20s)

“The head of the evacuation centre said, ‘It must be hard for you (after losing your husband). I’ll give you towels and food, so come and get them from me at night.’ When I went to get them, he blatantly forced me to have sex with him.” (Woman who lost her husband in the earthquake)

While the testimonies in the documentary were deeply disturbing, it was important for these “buried voices” to be heard, as it brought attention to the issue and sparked a much-needed conversation about the problem online.

Comments from viewers included:

“I couldn’t stop crying while watching this. It’s hell for women.”

“Shocked to hear so many accounts where the leader of the shelter was the main culprit.”

“This is so nauseatingly shocking…I can’t find the words for it.”

“Attacking a weakened individual after a disaster is dehumanising.”

“There’s a discourse that Japanese people are polite in the event of a disaster, but behind the scenes, incidents like this occur.”

“It’s not just the natural disaster people have to deal with, it’s secondary damage such as sexual violence. Everyone needs to be aware of this.”

“They need to amp up installation of cameras around evacuation shelters and temporary housing.”

The findings of the 2011 survey, led by respected social worker Professor Mieko Yoshiyama from the University of Michigan, did lead to the improvement of consultation services, evacuation shelters, and a review of national disaster countermeasures in Japan.

However, it’s the brave women who spoke out about the violence, and let their buried voices be heard, who were the real instigators for change. Let’s not forget them nor the work that still needs to be done to protect women in Japan as we remember the tragic events of 2011 on March 11.

Sources: NHK via Jin

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

-- Japanese teams use orange flags as a tsunami alert signal for swimmers and surfers

-- Tokyo schoolgirls invent eco and cost-friendly portable toilet for disaster relief【Video】

-- Japanese Americans tell STORIES FROM TOHOKU

© SoraNews24

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

39 Comments

Comments have been disabled You can no longer respond to this thread.

According to the site, “*free, privacy-protected consultation service also available in foreign languages and for foreign people: *0120-279-338. **There are three different mediums of taking consultation: 1. Free telephone consultation 2. Facebook consultation 3. From now onward through chat. *

*Monday 10:00 – 22:00, Tuesday 16:00 – 22:00, Wednesday 10:00 – 16:00, Thursday 10:00 – 22:00, Friday 10:00 – 16:00, Saturday 16:00 – 22:00, Sunday 16:00 – 22:00” *

Can’t guarantee info is current. It says “make sure to read until the end*”.

13 ( +13 / -0 )

Sexual violence in the wake of disasters has been widely documented around the world,........

Where?

-19 ( +7 / -26 )

However, it’s the brave women who spoke out about the violence, and let their buried voices be heard, who were the real instigators for change.

Hats off to these women! Bullying of any sort must be countered. Only weak people prey on the vulnerable.

16 ( +20 / -4 )

Hats off to these women! Bullying of any sort must be countered. Only weak people prey on the vulnerable.

Well stated.

14 ( +17 / -3 )

Why the article is afraid to use the proper word for some of these cases mentioned?

These women were raped,and so much for the auto convincing propaganda that Japanese are more disciplined in cases of national disaster.

I remember the days after the quake when one of my students made a comment about a news of a guy that left some money inside a closet of a random house after the tsunami to get a shirt,and how honest were Japanese people and this would have never happened abroad,I was right in front of my students and I even felt offended but knowing that they use this passive racism without even realizing what they were saying I kept my mouth shout.

The truth is far from that single case,Japanese needs to be reminded that they are human and unfortunately they are capable to commit despicable acts as well.

15 ( +19 / -4 )

Yorisoi Hotline was set up in March 2012 as a free 24-hour women’s-only phone consultation service to help locals with any problems following the disaster. Out of over 360,000 calls received from 2013 to 2018, more than half the consultations were found to be related to sexual violence in the three badly affected areas of Fukushima, Iwate, and Miyagi prefectures.

Five years is getting on for 2000 days, so that's around 200 calls a day, with over 100 about sexual violence. Every single day.

Given that women will also be dealing with massive disruption to any children or elderly relatives they care for, to say nothing of any ongoing trauma they have themselves, for over half the calls to be about sexual violence is shocking.

As for why it happens, the victims are human, both good and bad. We should throw away propaganda-driven images that only show them overcoming their situation with dogged perseverance. The story yesterday too mentioned some victims snatching at food relief and pushing children aside. The media failing to show this does not help the victims, it helps the government who gets away with providing insufficient food. Presenting victims as quiet and orderly gets lots of traction because there is a huge ongoing cartoon version of mindo where to be Japanese is to gaman your way through anything that ever happens.

15 ( +17 / -2 )

Since time immemorial sexual violence has been happening around the clock all over the world. War is the biggest trigger, but the everyday variety takes place within family ties. This is the naked truth of the human condition nobody likes to contemplate, which is why when kept out of sight, it stays out of mind.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

“The head of the evacuation center said, ‘It must be hard for you (after losing your husband). I’ll give you towels and food, so come and get them from me at night.’ When I went to get them, he blatantly forced me to have sex with him.” (Woman who lost her husband in the earthquake)""

Let's stop the BS!! Is he in Jail yet?

In order to prevent this from happening again and again, PREDATORS like him should be prosecuted and punished or treated, then you will see some positive results.

one of the reasons why criminals continue to commit the same crimes is because they think they will never get caught or they go unpunished.

12 ( +13 / -1 )

Why do men rape? What are the reasons?

Stress? Childhood trauma? Misunderstanding?

No.

It's because they can. Because they think they have the right to. Because society allows them to get away with it.

-3 ( +9 / -12 )

Today is International Women's Day.

Disgusting sicko men taking advantage of vulnerable women who are in a state of shock and loss. While the majority of people will help others during a disaster it does not apply to all. All cases should be held to account when possible.

Victims of rape should not be dismissed.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Gender equality and human rights in general must always keep a high priority for a civilized society and divert the issue to others isn’t constructive neither responsible at all.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Just not as often or as heinous as their western or Asian peers. and stats show it.

You know what stats show in Japan? That a majority of victims of sexual assault don't report the crime, and those who try to are discouraged from doing so by those in positions of authority. Those victims who insist on trying to get the rapist charged, are further discouraged from going to trial, and are hounded by the media and accused of lying.

These stats are nothing to be proud of.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Why do men rape? What are the reasons?

Stress? Childhood trauma? Misunderstanding?

No.

It's because they can. Because they think they have the right to. Because society allows them to get away with it.

Jesus, if men rape, then women rape too. You may as well say "black people rape", if we're going for blanket statements.

Some men rape, as do some women. Definitely more men than women. Let's aim not to not become bigots in our attempts to make a better society.

Because society allows them to get away with it.

Not in most countries. Society, through the enactment of rules against rape and punishment for doing so, has quite clearly said rape is not allowed. Some members of society have decided otherwise. If society allows them to get away with it, and you are a member of society, then you are letting people get away with rape.

Again, let's not denigrate an entire society in our attempts to make a better one.

-3 ( +7 / -10 )

"The survey outlined 82 individual incidents of sexual assault, sexual harassment, and unwanted sexual contact."

In another much larger "survey", a telephone helpline got 100 calls a day for five years relating to sexual violence.

Psychology 101 says rape is mostly about power, not sex, and in a disaster, someone handing out the blankets and onigiri has power. The "head of the evacuation center" will probably be the head of the local ku or kominkan community center, both of which are roles that are passed around in neighbourhood associations. Everyone ends up having to do their turn for a year. In normal times, these are just time-consuming tasks dealing with trivial minutae of neighbourhood life. In a disaster though, the person will become the de facto neighbourhood leader, present in daily briefings with local government and expected to coordinate relief activities. It should go without saying that people picked on a rota may be totally unsuited to this vastly elevated role.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Not going to see or hear THIS story in the mainstream news tonight as they retell other stories of the horrors of that and subsequent days, I bet.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

“The head of the evacuation center said, ‘It must be hard for you (after losing your husband). I’ll give you towels and food, so come and get them from me at night.’ When I went to get them, he blatantly forced me to have sex with him.” (Woman who lost her husband in the earthquake)""

Head of the center raping a woman who just lost her husband in the earthquake? What sick lowlife would you have to be.....deserves to be castrated in jail. Speechless.

-6 ( +0 / -6 )

Strangerland Today 10:06 am JST

Not in most countries. Society, through the enactment of rules against rape and punishment for doing so, has quite clearly said rape is not allowed. Some members of society have decided otherwise. If society allows them to get away with it, and you are a member of society, then you are letting people get away with rape.

Thank goodness we have a man to let us ladies know that men won't rape us, but if they do, they definitely won't get away with it.

-4 ( +5 / -9 )

There was plenty of sexual violence in the New Orleans Superdome after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Many people were mugged, robbed, and raped as thousands of people were sleeping nearby (or pretending to sleep).

-2 ( +3 / -5 )

If society allows them to get away with it, and you are a member of society, then you are letting people get away with rape.

Not sure I follow the thinking on this. If a murder takes place, and the murderer isn't caught, am I complicit in the murder?

2 ( +5 / -3 )

The ‘consensus’ appears to be “Only weak people prey on the vulnerable.” - @PTownsend 6:52am -

1 ( +2 / -1 )

If your a man that takes advantage of a female like this you are a low life.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Sorry to say but life is harsh when disasters happen.

It reveals how civilized a society is.

I strongly believe Japan is ahead of many but since a perfect world does not exist, sexual assaults are bound to happen.

The only good advice is be ready for disasters, lowlife people everywhere.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Sorry to say but life is harsh when disasters happen.

It reveals how civilized a society is.

I strongly believe Japan is ahead of many but since a perfect world does not exist, sexual assaults are bound to happen.

The only good advice is be ready for disasters, lowlife people everywhere.

Life is harsh in the wake of a disaster. But most people, faced with such peril, seek to help one another. It isn't true that everyone immediately turns 'feral' when a catastrophe strikes. The Covid-19 crisis showed this. Those who decide (and it is a decision) to exploit those in need or in distress deserve to be punished.

It's wild that I have to say this, but: we can be better than rape.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

I just don’t agree with fixing that to social status, geographical places, bad times, wars, quakes and such. It is happening everywhere, at all times, in all countries and also in all society layers.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Rape is rampant in Japan, even without disaster, with many perverted men preying on middle school and high school girls as well. However, Japan rarely (

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Luckily its "only" 82 out of more then one million people who seems to have experienced it so less the 0,01% still sad to hear stuff like this happening but even Japanese are Human and Humans are mostly scum by nature.

The actual number is probably higher, then again sometimes judging from interviews with Japanese Woman they seem to see accidentaly touching their butt as Sexual harrasment as well which could happen a lot in a situation like that especially when you try to push them up on a roof or whatever.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

So what happened the rapist? What convictions?

For ONCE, can JT actually chose a finished article to cut and paste?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Thank goodness we have a man to let us ladies know that men won't rape us, but if they do, they definitely won't get away with it.

There is no way a man can say anything that you won’t argue with. Weird.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

It all goes back to the old adage: women need a reason to have sex, men just need a place (or opportunity). Very sad and pathetic that some men would take advantage of a woman whose husband has just died, whether it be a disease, an accident or a tsunami. Those men know how disgusting/pathetic they themselves are, but still do such things.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The schools should have a subject on gender behaviour in the 21st.

How else to regulate what embarrasses not only 50%.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

@Strangerland,

Out of all the nationalities around the world you used "B:LACK PEOPLE" as your example of a "BLANKET STATEMENT and you have the nerve to post " here saying "Let's aim not to not become bigots in our attempts to make a better society". WOW!! You are eating crow!! How could you say "Again, let's not denigrate an entire society in our attempts to make a better one". Poor example for a hypocrite!

StrangerlandToday 10:06 am JST

Why do men rape? What are the reasons?

Stress? Childhood trauma? Misunderstanding?

No.

It's because they can. Because they think they have the right to. Because society allows them to get away with it.

Jesus, if men rape, then women rape too. You may as well say "black people rape", if we're going for blanket statements.

Some men rape, as do some women. Definitely more men than women. Let's aim not to not become bigots in our attempts to make a better society.

Because society allows them to get away with it.

Not in most countries. Society, through the enactment of rules against rape and punishment for doing so, has quite clearly said rape is not allowed. Some members of society have decided otherwise. If society allows them to get away with it, and you are a member of society, then you are letting people get away with rape.

Again, let's not denigrate an entire society in our attempts to make a better one.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Thank goodness we have a man to let us ladies know that men won't rape us,

I don't think you are representative of most ladies based on your posts. I hope these cases of sexual violence will be prosecuted.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Out of all the nationalities around the world you used "B:LACK PEOPLE" as your example of a "BLANKET STATEMENT and you have the nerve to post " here saying "Let's aim not to not become bigots in our attempts to make a better society".

Um, yeah. I gave an example of a clearly egregious statement, that was equal to the statement I was pointing out was egregious:

Jesus, if men rape, then women rape too. You may as well say "black people rape", if we're going for blanket statements.

I'm not too sure if you're just trying to score internet points, or if you're not the sharpest crayon in the box. Maybe English is your second language, and you don't understand the meaning of the phrase 'you may as well say...', but for those with the linguistic ability to understand what I said, and the intellect to process it, it's very clear from my statement that the example I was using was one I thought to be egregious.

I guess, however, if you're prone to making blanket statements, you would look at my use of the term "black people", and make a blanket statement about it. So you kind of proved my point.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Thank goodness we have a man to let us ladies know that men won't rape us

Who said that? It's a pretty silly comment.

I give you the benefit of the doubt that you were just confused, and not being disingenuous by twisting what I said into something that met your agenda rather than being a valid representation of what I actually said.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

StrangerlandToday  01:17 am JST

Who said that? It's a pretty silly comment. 

I give you the benefit of the doubt that you were just confused, and not being disingenuous by twisting what I said into something that met your agenda rather than being a valid representation of what I actually said.

There’s no mistake.

Considering that I’ve said many times that men should refrain from commenting in a way that contradicts women’s’ lived experiences or attempts to speak over them, you should know that I’m not joking.

Rape is a subject that women are the authority on, and men’s’ opinions on how women talk about it are moot.

So if a woman says “Japan is not safe for women” or “rapists routinely get away with rape in Japan” that woman’s’ voice outranks yours.

Men don’t get to tell women that they should feel safe, or that no, men don’t get away with rape.

Particularly in Japan, which has an extremely patriarchal culture and archaic rape laws, men who rape women are almost never prosecuted. Women don’t even feel comfortable reporting rape. Prosecutors are loath to take rape cases to trial because the aforementioned archaic rape laws make rape so hard to prosecute. And the court system is full of old men who see women as at fault for their own rapes, so victims have little hope that justice will be served.

When three college students can gang rape a girl and serve no jail time, when the prime minister himself uses his influence to stop a rapist from being prosecuted, and when rape victims are routinely shamed into silence by vilification in the media, and when the report rate for rape is only 4%, then it’s quite accurate to say that rapists can easily get away with rape.

You opinion is therefore not only wrong, but completely moot.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

When we read Your comments yesterday @Strangerland, we thought “Seems reasonable”:

Let's not become bigots in our attempts to make a better society.” and “Let’s not denigrate our entire society in attempts to make a better one.”-

We also understood when you defended ‘Your words’ from @girl_’s continuous and “disingenuous twisting of what I said into something that met your agenda” -

So, in that case, there’s no need to ‘backpedal’ and ‘give you the benefit of the doubt that you were just confused”.

However, You created the unintentional ‘misunderstanding’ for @kaimycahl 11:15pm. There is no room for understanding any ‘poor choices’ of example of ‘egregious statements’. Perhaps You should reflect on Your “linguistic ability to understand and the intellect to process it.”

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Fewer cases but males also experience rape and sexual assaults. Male children sexually abused. Gay rape. In some African countries, gangs of women rape men to milk their semen to sell to fertility clinics or use in rituals. Male rape is very real and traumatic.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Well men have mothers, sisters, wives and daughters and are very concerned about their safety from sexual assault. Again some posters are dismissive of men just like some men are dismissive of women.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Your *numbers as absolutely Unfounded! @girl**_”Report rate is only 4%...” ???*

When you ‘spout off’ completely inaccurate information YOU further damage the credibility of reporters of sexual assault! Both women and men. -Your comments here are reactionary and reprehensible. Please retract and clarify with appropriate links in the future.

Sorry, everyone. Here are actual and Credible numbers from RAINN:

”The Majority of Sexual Assaults Are Not Reported to the Police

Only 230 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to police. That means about 3 out of 4 go unreported.1

Individuals of college-age2

Female Students: 20% report

Female Non-Students: 32% report

The elderly: 28% report3

Members of the military: 43% of female victims and 10% of male victims reported”.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites