Japan Today
Image: Marie Egbuchulam (@beauty_dor)

Japanese social activist’s anti-groping poster proposal met with overwhelming praise online

By Ben K, grape Japan

Groping, or chikan is a serious problem in Japan, and one which sadly refuses to go away. Just as in many other countries, crowded (and sometimes even uncrowded) trains are the most common environments where this despicable crime occurs. According to Japanese police statistics, in Japan, there were 1,780 reported cases in 2019, 45% of which occurred in trains. Victims often feel it is difficult to report groping and don't know who they can turn to for help. For every case reported, there are surely others which go unreported.

While some would argue that there's much more they could potentially do, police and public transportation companies can't be accused of not trying to send messages designed to stop the crime. You're likely to find an anti-groping poster in almost any station in Japan with messages such as "Chikan is a crime!" or "Watch out for gropers!" The problem is whether posters such as these which primarily address potential victims of chikan are effective.

For plus-size model and social activist Marie Egbuchulam (@beauty_dor), the answer to that question is a resounding NO. To make her point, last month, she created her own proposals for anti-groping and anti sneak photography posters, ones with a decidedly different approach. Her anti-groping poster was particularly impactful and inspired many approving comments. With a no-nonsense, tough attitude, and the interjection "Haa!?" in bold red lettering, (carrying the nuance "Are you serious!?"), Egbuchulam stares directly at the viewer.

Screen Shot 2020-07-14 at 8.36.53.png

She tweets: "I'm sick and tired of seeing nothing but posters urging (potential victims) to protect themselves, so I created my own anti-groping posters. Groping and sneak photography increases in June."

Image: Marie Egbuchulam (@beauty_dor)

Vertical text in blue: Don't pretend you didn't see it. This is everyone's problem.

Large black text: Because chikan is sexual violence!

White text: Chikan isn't a (private) problem between a man and a woman, it's a problem pitting gropers vs. society. As members of society, let's do our part to eradicate sex crimes.

Image: Marie Egbuchulam (@beauty_dor)

Large red and black text: I saw you taking sneak photography just now. You know what's going to happen next, right?

Small text: Sneak photography is a form of sexual violence and a despicable crime. If you see it happening, please send a message here. Please tell us about the scene of the crime. You can remain anonymous. As a member of society, please participate in the eradication of sex crimes.

Egbuchulam makes the point that chikan will not disappear as long as it is portrayed as an issue which exclusively needs to be dealt with by potential victims, the direct result of their vulnerability (need for self-protection). Instead, she implies in the messaging of her posters that it's necessary to shift the focus and address society as a whole, beginning with those who witness the crime.

Directly staring at the viewer, Egbuchulam implies that all of us, society, need to take responsibility and her gaze, along with her incredulous interjection in bold red letters, can be seen as an implicit criticism of Japanese society's apathy until now, a situation she hopes will change with a renewed awareness.

Her Tweet has already received 32,000 likes and 1,100 retweets at the time of writing, eliciting approving comments such as:

Wonderful! These posters have everything that the current batch of awareness posters lack. I hope they get officially used.

I think that posters which give people an awareness of the crime are preferable to those which encourage (potential) victims to protect themselves.

Strong posters like these are better than posters which just say "please." These posters look like they would make it easier for people to speak up!

You can learn more about Marie Egbuchulam and her activities at her official website.

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© grape Japan

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Yes, if society took it more seriously, it would happen less.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

Promote anti groping By using someone whom gropers would never target

So off base and wrong, Vince Black. You might imagine whom you would target if you were a pervy groper, but that's not how it works. Anyone is a target of that kind of creep. You know, the kind of guys who claim you can grab anyone "by the pussy" or anywhere else with impunity.

I have witnessed it myself. A beautiful woman, quite similar in physical appearance to activist Marie Egbuchulam, groped at a dinner table by a Japanese man who casually turned toward his right and planted his grubby left hand on her sizeable breast. What did she/we do? Kept silent of course. It was an international event with high level people present and that's what the little perv was counting on. You don't have to look like an idol to be a target.

7 ( +13 / -6 )

Againdt chikan, give a kick, a smack to the perv. He won't ever do it again. Don't wait for others to make justice.

I taught my girls not to follow Japanese behaviour, i.e to keep quiet whatever happens to you.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

A man in Greece did it to my wife and slapped him across his bald head and left a red handprint. He yelped and snuck off into the crowd.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

A Japanese anti-groping association in Osaka called Chikan Yokushi Katsudo Center conducted tests of effective anti-groping measures and determined that badges worn on ladies clothing with bold lettering in Nihongo NO CHIKAN!! and I Won't let the matter drop! were effective to deter gropers. They also determined the type of females gropers go for, they are not the sexily attired go to a disco and party type but the frail, probably won't scream demure schoolgirl types. Will try and locate link and post for ya'll - https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2016/03/25/national/anti-groping-badges-distributed-stations-tokyo-osaka/ ; Volunteers fro Chikan Yokushi Katsudo Center an Osaka-based group handed out almost 500 badges to commuters on Friday morning in the JR Shibuya Station area in a bid to help prevent young female school girls and college and university students from being groped inside train cars.

The badges were made because it’s difficult for teenage girls to raise an alarm if they are groped and people standing nearby won’t necessarily come to their aid, according to Chikan Yokushi Katsudo Center, the group behind the badges. Also, the group hopes the badges will help to prevent any false charges being brought against innocent men, and that they will help girls to be more confident and assertive so that incidents can be averted before they happen.

“The badge says ‘I won’t let the matter drop.’ It’s small but is a great help, because it is difficult for young girls to be brave enough to raise their voices and to deter any would-be gropers,” said Yayoi Matsunaga, a representative of the center, which was founded in January.

Research carried out in 2010 by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police found that 3,880 men were arrested nationwide for alleged groping incidents in 2009. During the same year, however, 340 men were arrested on trains or in railway stations across the country on groping charges.

The same report shows that 89.1 percent of the victims did not report the incident.

The badges were originally designed by a female student attending a high school in Tokyo.

The girl and her mother, Mari Tonooka, designed a tag that had “Groping is a crime” and “I won’t let the matter drop,” written on it, and attached it to her school bag.

Although she had often been groped, since attaching the badge to her bag, she has not been groped once.

“She was safe during the morning commute as there are now dedicated carriages for female passengers, but not during the evening.

“She tried many ways to prevent men from groping her, and reported any incidents to the police and railways,” said Matsunaga.

“Her attempts, unfortunately didn’t help. However, the badge did,” she said.

4 ( +4 / -0 )


-4 ( +2 / -6 )

To the author, Ben K,

What 'many other countries' have this problem? Any such claim should be backed up with empirical evidence. You have cited no source to this claim.

Until doing so, Japan remains one country alone that this phenomenon is prevalent, and well-documented as such.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Now we need one for male victims of false accusations of groping.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

If I witness it, unless is a family member or a friend, I will keep pretending I didn't see it. Even though I'm a naturalized citizen, if I get involved, the police will be more suspicious about me than the chikan perpetrator, not worth the hassle imo

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Although I totally agree with Egbuchulam, its just a start, there needs to be a program of education for the railway staff, and police, as part of that training they need to understand that its not the girls/womans problem ie she's pretty or her skirt is to short so she's asking for it mentality, this need to be changed or addressed, they also need to comprehend that men might also be subject to a wrongful accusation, I think that young girls and woman can be informed that if they retaliate, ( within reason) they won't be arrested them selfs. On the Jnews there has been various comment in the passed where foreigners have intervened and been told to leave it alone, don't get involved by the police, this needs to be addressed to, if the above issues DON'T get addressed, the Chikan know that they can get away with it, and these groping cases will carry on.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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