More than 8,600 people have signed an online petition to protest the annual Boob Aid fundraising event, which allows donors to the charity to touch the breasts of porn actresses.
Broadcast live on satellite network Sky PerfecTV!’s adult pay channel, the two-day event, held last month, is aimed at eradicating AIDS and has been held since 2003.
A record 7,175 people participated in the most recent event, raking in a little over ¥6 million. Participants need to be 18 years or older, and each year a few women can be found among the men waiting in line.
Not everyone, however, finds the event in good taste.
“This event hides behind the front of being a ‘charity event’ but in reality, the participants are basically just paying to touch bare breasts,” said Change.org on its website, which started collecting signatures on Dec. 10. “Please stop exploiting women’s (bodies) for promotional and commercial aim.”
The website, in Japanese and English, sees the event as a play by the broadcaster to increase its viewership.
“Fundraising to support AIDS groups is much needed,” it read. “It can and should be done in ways that are appropriate in the public sphere, without exploiting women’s bodies and reinforcing sexism.”
Commenting on the rising criticism, the Boob Aid organizer said it will consider the various opinions raised about the event as well as the contributions it has made over the years toward the eradication of AIDS before making a decision.
Officials at Sky Perfect JSAT Corp., which operates the broadcaster, meanwhile were startled by the move.
“We will gravely accept their opinions and consider what to do in the future,” said Toru Ueda, general manager of the broadcaster’s channel operations division. “We had thought that this kind of social contribution could be acceptable.”
Ueda said he was surprised by the sudden rise of criticism since last month after holding the popular annual event for the 13th time.
In the U.S. and other Western countries, celebrities sometimes participate in eye-catching charity fundraising campaigns, such as posing nude for calenders or stripping naked for an event.
In the U.K., however, Tracy Kiss, a former model and a mother of two, was banned from a fundraising site last year after she offered topless shots of herself to those who donated £10 or more.
Change.org’s website can be seen at jtim.es/X2h8g