A group of Tokyo-based NGOs that support women have launched the Post-Earthquake Support for Women and Children Project, an initiative to prevent women and children from possible sexual assaults in the earthquake-stricken regions.
Project officials are distributing cards in Miyagi, Iwate and Fukushima prefectures, calling on women and children to be vigilant against possible cases of sexual abuse and harassment in refugee centers.
According to project representatives, numerous cases of rapes, sexual assaults and groping that targeted women and children, were reported after the Great Hanshin Earthquake in 1995.
In order to prevent similar cases of violence in the current disaster, the project was created only a week after the March 11 disaster, aimed at raising awareness at refugee centers, local medical institutions and among volunteers in the three most-devastated prefectures.
The information cards warn women and children to avoid walking alone and to report any strange behavior they may encounter.
“Your safety being your top priority is not selfish” and “Don’t put up with any behavior you don't like or that makes you feel uncomfortable,” are two examples of the warnings on the cards, which come in the color pink, and are accompanied by animation characters. The cards also provide emergency telephone numbers in all three prefectures.
Project officials are also distributing sanitary pads and basic make-up products together with the cards.© Compiled from news reports