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NGOs warn evacuees of possible sexual assaults in shelters

32 Comments

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

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

32 Comments
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Sad that this step would even need to be taken. One unfortunate reality about disasters is that they don't discriminate between sparing the lives of normal folks or predatory scum. Would that natural disasters only targeted the worst of society.

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Assault is assault whether it is sexual or not. The be "vigilant" is and should be a matter of second-nature. To publicly target a segment of society with "warnings" that they would already be aware of seems prurient in nature. There isn't a lot of hope for people that allow themselves to be manipulated, but gullibility seems inherent in people and, of course, we would all like to believe in our fellow man's virtuosity. But, to ignore natural tendencies in people (or nature in general) is akin to throwing yourself in the lion's den. Caution should always be exercised, but inciting fear is another story.

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OrangeW3dge

I'm not sure what exactly you're trying to say here. Certainly assault is assault, but women and children are much more likely to be targets of sexual assault than men, thus making this information particularly useful to them. Also victims of sexual assault aren't at fault for their assault because they are gullible or easily manipulated. Women and children are generally physically weaker than men, and are rarely taught how to protect themselves from this kind of crime. And then they are often discouraged from reporting such crimes, by their families or even the police. Arming people with information that may protect them is hardly inciting fear. Information helps people to manage their fears.

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Excellent comment, sarahsuz25.

Also agree with LFRAgain, it is very unfortunate that this would be an issue, but people will find any excuse to be cruel and disgusting, even after a devastating natural disaster.

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I did not even think of this happening, as it does not happen much in Japan in general. People will have to look out for each other. Protect the kids and women as a group.

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I did not even think of this happening, as it does not happen much in Japan in general.

Are you serious?

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I did not even think of this happening, as it does not happen much in Japan in general.

Either you don't live here, or if by chance you do, you really have to take your head out of the sand or down from the clouds and face reality.

Project officials are also distributing sanitary pads and basic make-up products together with the cards.

Like once again JT takes a decent informational article and tosses in needless garbage. Who really gives a hoot one way or the other about sanitary pads and make-up when talking about something as serious as assaults on women and children. DOH!

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I did not even think of this happening, as it does not happen much in Japan in general.

You must be joking right? What is the point of the women only cars on the trains and subways of Tokyo?

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It seems to that so far this NGO is acting on speculation, not any reported incidents. And I think in a big city like Kobe, with Osaka next door, there is a much bigger chance of low-lifes abusing the situation than in rural Tohoku. Looking at the pictures, the camps are mostly populataed by Oji and Obasan, while the young folks are helping to clean up.

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It seems to that so far this NGO is acting on speculation, not any reported incidents.

Uhmmm wasn't there an article here on JT that reported on an increase in assaults and there were also reports of rapes too?

That isn't speculation but prudent action to make women and children and everyone aware that in or after disasters like this the potential exists and being proactive makes more sense imo that wringing hands, sucking teeth, and crying after the fact.

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willib

there are refugees all over the place, Tokyo, etc, I wud say this is a very good idea, certainly better than waiting till assaults take place

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The first thing I heard when I came back to Japan at the end of March was rumors of rapes.

Then I read articles in the world's press talking about the dangers of rumors. So I kept my mouth shut.

Now it seems that without actually saying it, they are putting out carefully-worded warnings.

The truth must lie somewhere in between.

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I did not even think of this happening, as it does not happen much in Japan in general.

goddog - either you've never stepped foot in Japan or live here somehow completely oblivious to the whole ちかん, only-in-Japan culture that the rest of us take for granted (panty vending machines and women-only train cars to name a few examples)

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I have lived here for 28 years, and only saw one groper get nabbed by an under cover woman cop who was really tough.

I did not even think of this happening, as it does not happen much in Japan in general.

Other countries have much more problems with this kind of stuff... that is what I meant. Just like very very little looting going on etc. It is really bad in other countries including the US.

The reality is that this place is much safer than most. I would never move back to America (NY is my home City)

Moderator: All readers back on topic please. The subject is sexual abuse in evacuee centers.

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this kind of behaviour is constantly promoted in j porn. most porn i've seen here, and i admittedly see tons of it, is rape, coercion, hidden cams, scams, chikans, intimidation. all in one way or the other depict initial resistance from the female, gradually diminishing, ending with supposed pleasure. i find it seriously wrong and have been talking to japanese people about it. girls would be like: "that's because only men watch porn, what do you make of it as male? don't ask me". men are like: "it's all make-believe anyhow, it's not a big deal". this is one cultural aspect i find really disturbing as it brings out unconscious, implied presumptions of male/female relations that seem to run very deep in society. i distinctly remember thinking how once the dust is settled there's definitely going to be a surge in rape/coercion themed porn in evacuation shelters in a year or two, just wait and see

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most porn i've seen here, and i admittedly see tons of it, is rape, coercion, hidden cams, scams, chikans, intimidation

Hmm, what does this say about yourself? Just kidding. Sure, I've watched j porn too, but I stayed away from the rape-themed ones because, quite frankly, they disgust me. Linking porn to rape is like linking video games to violence. I'm not saying there is zero connection, but we are adults and capable of making choices.

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Project officials are also distributing sanitary pads and basic make-up products together with the cards.

Are you serious? Makeup and tampons don't mix with an anti rape leaflet.

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gogogo, maybe it's the best way to get people to take the pamphlets... and possibly even read them.

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Just because you didnt see any assaults or rapes or molestations going on just has to mean that they dont happen. It's thinking like this that causes all sorts of problems for the people that are working to prevent crimes like these.

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The thought of the possibility of people taking advantage of earthquake / tsunami victims by way of sexual assaults hadn't even crossed my mind. I guess my mind hasn't been corrupted enough to come up with such an idea. But, now that the article mentions it, it does make sense. It's a perfect opportunity for predators. I think that raising awareness is a good first step in prevention.

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WHAT? Sexual assaults in Japan? Impossible. you foreigners just don't understand Japanese culture! "Yamette" means "Ok"...right? It always shocks me when people moronically hold onto stereotypes that have time and time again proven ridiculously fallible. Women's universities and trains were invented because there is a higher than normal rate of assault here. Unfortunately, women and families of children are discouraged from reporting assault because the victim is socially punished more than the offender.

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Tough for the weak in any situation, tougher when there is an emergency, and living in shelters and family members possibly dead. I hope the women and especially the children take care of themselves.

Those commenting on Japan having "worse" sex crimes problems because of porn, underwear vending machines and women-only train cars are strange and silly. So is my country (US) a country of the worst sex-crimes in the world because there were date-rape counselling services on campus at college? THey were trying to solve a problem. the train cars are trying to solve a problem. Porn and men purchasing womens underwear are not really linkable to actual criminal behavior. Standards and ways of looking at things here are just different (ie, ppl here w/ absolutely no interest in porn and the vending machines also, if they were to think about it, would look at it differently than foreigners commenting here). You have to take everything w/a grain of salt in another country. As for actual crimes, they happen in my country and others' countries as well, so no reason to pick out Jpan.

The position of the women and children up in Tohoku is same as women and children at the time of Katrina, and of all weak ppl in any emergency. Good luck to them.

Moderator: Stay on topic please.

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How can a perpetrator even hope to go undetected in an overcrowded evacuation center ?? But given that there are designated "pink cars" on Tokyuu trains between major cities as well. And although I have NEVER seen anything even remotely approaching a sexual assault on the Shinkansen, sadly I suppose that anything is possible...

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What sort of reptile would sexually assault people under these circumstances?

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So...there are no assaults, or any problems of this nature to date in the area of the quake/tsunamis. This being the case, and though I'm sure these folks passing out the pink cards mean well, it seems just a bit intrusive. I mean, these victims have enough real stuff to be worried about without worrying about something that hasn't happened yet, don't they?

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I sincerely hope this kind of thing doesn`t happen, but I see no problem with making women and children aware of the possibility so that they are more able to protect themselves should the worst happen.

If this information card leads to someone noticing someone behaving strangely and preventing just one assault it will have been worth it.

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This seems a bit presumptuous given the circumstances. Five weeks after the disaster there's an article warning about rape and sexual harassment, yet I don't remember reading about any cases of this so far. Just because it happened during the Hanshin earthquake doesn't meant it will happen now. Different degrees of devastation.

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LFRagain and kokoro:

Why do you think it is sad that this step is being taken? I think it is a good thing. Don't just give up on human decency so easily.

You seem to think it is in response to something immediate or some report, but I see the date 1995 here. This is a reaction, a precaution, based on things that happened in Kansai 16 years ago.

At last count, there were more than 200 NGOs operating in affected areas. That was two weeks ago. I have no doubt that the figure is double now. Each one of those NGOs has to justify their work to donors and members, so there is all kinds of hand-wringing and posed photography there.

This organization's raison d'etre is protecting women, so they are doing what they do and making press releases. That is all it is.

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Good demographic, timing and supplies.

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Rumors spread after Hanshin that sex crimes have been increasing. But I believe in reality, data showed no particular rise in rape cases in Hyogo Prefecture that year from the previous year.

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It's not that hard to figure out: traditional social order has been disrupted, many people are alone and vulnerable, the usual protections of police, etc. are not as readily available as they are in normal circumstances, people have been traumatized and demoralized by their experiences.

Maybe increased sexual assaults have not made it into the news, but my prefecture's volunteer bureau has started warning female volunteers not to go to Tohoku alone, so I doubt that this is all in the realm of idle speculation.

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Just another good way to spread more paranoia into the already paranoid masses.

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