Japan’s public transportation network gets high marks for its punctuality and cleanliness. Not every ride on the rails is a pleasant one, though, because some lowlifes called "chikan" use the crowded conditions on commuter trains as cover to grope unsuspecting women.
Now, one high school girl and her mother have had enough, so they’ve started a crowdfunding campaign to design and distribute what are essentially “Don’t touch!” signs for women to wear while taking the train.
Last year, Takako (whose name is an alias to protect her identity) entered high school, and because of the distance from her home to her campus, also started commuting on the train, alone. Unfortunately, she soon found herself the victim of "chikan," with incidents occurring, according to her mother, “almost every day.”
Shocked and frightened, Takako found herself unable to verbally protest or call out for help from others, and would come home in tears from the ordeals. Takako and her mother put their heads together, trying to think of preventive measures and other ways to protect the child, none of which proved effective. The mother gave her child a warning buzzer, but the teen was too timid to sound it inside the train. The girl tried changing the car she rode in, but simply ended up encountering other "chikan." Even consulting the police proved ineffective, as the authorities said that since Takako wasn’t being repeatedly victimized by the same person, they had no way to effectively catch the perpetrators.
At about the same time Takako entered her second year of high school, police in Saitama Prefecture began distributing stickers that could be used to mark offending hands with ink. However, this too would require more boldness than Takako could muster. Moreover, she was concerned about the possibility of mistakenly accusing someone of being a "chikan" when he had no such intent, which is not an entirely implausible scenario given how closely riders’ bodies are often pressed together on Tokyo’s rush hour trains.
But in April, Takako and her mother finally hit upon the idea of simply creating a "chikan"-deterring card (see photo below right) and attaching it to the girl’s school bag.
Takako’s mom created it herself, using free illustrations she found online. The text reads “Groping is a crime,” at the top, with the woman at the bottom declaring “I won’t take it quietly!” The high schooler placed it on the shoulder strap of her bag, facing towards the rear, and hasn’t encountered a single chikan since.
Realizing that other women are dealing with similar problems, Takako and her mother began to think of providing others with similar anti-"chikan" items. They imagined, though, that some women might feel reluctant to wear a placard, and eventually decided to test a round pin, which they felt would be less intrusive and perhaps even a bit fashionable.
The text is the same as the card’s (although with “I won’t take it quietly!” now on the top and “Groping is a crime” on the bottom), and although the pin is arguably less eye-catching than the card, it’s been just as effective in completely preventing any "chikan" from putting their hands on Takako since she started wearing it.
However, the pair think the overall look is a bit amateurish. Takako says it’s far preferable to being felt up by "chikan" on the train, but to help spread the use of the pins, the two are holding a design contest for a new illustration to replace the silhouettes on the current design. Submissions are being accepted through Japanese website Crowd Works between Nov 11 and 25, with a total of 110,000 yen in prize money being awarded, including 50,000 yen for the overall best entry.
In order to secure the funds for the contest, as well as the production and distribution of the Stop Chikan Pins (as they’re officially called), there’s also a crowdfunding campaign going on through website Faavo. 500,000 yen is being sought, with reward tiers that include one of the pins starting at 3,000 yen.
For those interested in contributing art or monetary donations, the design contest and crowdfunding websites can be found here and here, respectively.
Related: Stop Chikan Pin official website, Facebook
Sources: Huffington Post Japan, Stop Chikan Pin official website, PR Times, Faavo, Crowd Works
Read more stories from RocketNews24. -- “Women who attract chikan, and women who don’t”: The illustrated guide that’s provoking debate -- Policewoman’s posterior produces poetic justice as she arrests man she says groped her on train -- New anti-chikan cellphone stickers let you mark train gropers with sign of shame© Japan Today