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Landmark ruling in favor of victimized porn actress paves way for others to quit, lawyers say

by

Staff Writer

A recent landmark court ruling in favor of a porn actress desperate to quit the industry paves the way for others to cut ties with the world of commercial sex without fear of penalties, lawyers said Tuesday.

They said the ruling also deals a blow to the county’s largely unsupervised porn video business.

In what the lawyers say is the first legal case of its kind, the Tokyo District Court in early September dismissed a lawsuit filed by a porn production company against a woman in her 20s in which it claimed more than ¥24 million in damages after she suddenly declared she would end her contract.

The ruling in favor of the woman was finalized Friday after the firm decided not to appeal, Kazuko Ito, acting for the woman, said.

Originally an aspiring TV talent, the woman, whose identity has been withheld to protect her privacy, decided to terminate her contract with the company after being forced to appear in a number of obscene job assignments while still a minor and in a porn film once she was an adult.

In the ruling, presiding Judge Katsuya Hara said shooting a porn film, which inevitably necessitates actors and actresses being involved in sex, “must not be conducted against their will.” The women was, therefore, legally able to end her contract with the plaintiff.

“That the court declared companies are not allowed to make people engage in sex without their consent is a strong message against sexual exploitation of women, and will hopefully spark a move toward establishing legislation against such an industry,” Ito told a news conference in Tokyo.

Ito described the ruling as “groundbreaking” in that people will no longer have to film porn videos if they find it unacceptable, regardless of what their initial contract states.

Japan, often criticized for its lukewarm attitude toward curbing child pornography and sex trafficking involving teen girls, does not have a law to regulate, or a governmental entity to supervise, the porn video business, Ito said. She emphasized the need for a legislative effort against the business.

The woman welcomed the ruling, but said her ordeal was far from over.

“Even though the trial is over, there are challenges mounting ahead. Once distributed all over the Internet, the films I appeared in are now hardly ‘deletable,’ no matter how desperately I want to forget about them,” she said in a statement.

“I’m fearful someone I know may come across them at any time. Living like this forever is a pain and I will never forgive the industry.”

According to Ito and activists involved in rescuing the victim, she signed a contract with the porn production company while still a high school student after being approached by a recruiter on the street with the promise she would become a TV star.

Unsuspecting, she signed the paper peppered with legal jargon that included no mention of pornography, only to find herself ensnared in a number of unpaid obscene job assignments.

At one point, she expressed her wish to quit, but the company threatened to charge her for planned videos allegedly worth about ¥2.2 million per work and divulge her activities to her parents. Her request for a copy of the contract went unheeded.

Once she turned 20, the company arranged for her to appear in a porn film.

Naked and terrorized by the gaze of the shooting crew, she was forced into sex with men she had never met — her complaint of a severe vaginal pain being ignored — before she began to contemplate suicide.

Setsuko Miyamoto, a representative of People Against Pornography and Sexual Violence (PAPS), said cases like this were becoming increasingly common in recent years.

Since 2012, her organization has dealt with 93 cases involving porn actresses and actors desperate to quit the industry, with many victimized by rape and a debilitating blow to their self-esteem, she said.

  • Blether

    “When mummies’ boys attack”

  • zer0_0zor0

    This doesn’t make much sense. How could that company get away with recruiting a high school girl like that and threatening to tell her parents without being criminally liable?

    Obviously the police should be investigating the company, and the young woman should now be suing them.

  • Terry

    If we get past the “porn is evil and must be banned” state of mind, this ruling is a net loss for Japan and the women it intends to help.

    I don’t know the specifics of Japanese law, but generally minors are not allowed to enter into contracts. I suspect she was over 20 before a contract was signed. And once she entered into a contract it shouldn’t matter what the contract specified. In the US the civil lawsuit is for “Specific Performance”. Like the name implies that means one party demands the other fulfill their obligations as set out in the contract. Without the ability to compel someone to honor their commitments modern society breaks down.

    Removing the porn industry’s protections under the law will NOT have the desired effect. Rather than allowing women to renege on their responsibilities, which seems like the desired outcome, it will bring in organized crime and human slavery. That is not hyperbole. This is the observed worldwide outcome 100% of the time when the rule of law breaks down. Basically if my lawyer can’t make you honor your word, this big man with a baseball bat can. It really is just that simple.

  • Tabula Rasa

    I’ll speak about oppression in general. Whenever there are social conditions that deprive people of power which allows them to be exploited, those with power need to step in, like the American federal government during the Civil Rights Movement. It’s illogical to expect the powerless to correct the problem(s) themselves, and sometimes they can’t be blamed for their “choices” because they don’t actually have choices.

    These kinds of stories can’t examine all the complicated social conditions that contribute to victimization, but the conditions can reasonably be inferred from other stories about the scarcity of laws to protect women and children, or the extremely late adoption of laws like the one outlawing child porn. The enforcement of such laws may also be a problem, as it is for other countries that have many more such laws.