Anti-groping badges distributed at stations in Tokyo, Osaka

by

Staff Writer

Volunteers from an Osaka-based group handed out almost 500 badges to commuters on Friday morning in the JR Shibuya Station area in a bid to help prevent young female school girls and college and university students from being groped inside train cars.

The badges were made because it’s difficult for teenage girls to raise an alarm if they are groped and people standing nearby won’t necessarily come to their aid, according to Chikan Yokushi Katsudo Center, the group behind the badges. Also, the group hopes the badges will help to prevent any false charges being brought against innocent men, and that they will help girls to be more confident and assertive so that incidents can be averted before they happen.

“The badge says ‘I won’t let the matter drop.’ It’s small but is a great help, because it is difficult for young girls to be brave enough to raise their voices and to deter any would-be gropers,” said Yayoi Matsunaga, a representative of the center, which was founded in January.

Research carried out in 2010 by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police found that 3,880 men were arrested nationwide for alleged groping incidents in 2009. During the same year, however, 340 men were arrested on trains or in railway stations across the country on groping charges.

The same report shows that 89.1 percent of the victims did not report the incident.

The badges were originally designed by a female student attending a high school in Tokyo.

The girl and her mother, Mari Tonooka, designed a tag that had “Groping is a crime” and “I won’t let the matter drop,” written on it, and attached it to her school bag.

Although she had often been groped, since attaching the badge to her bag, she has not been groped once.

“She was safe during the morning commute as there are now dedicated carriages for female passengers, but not during the evening.

“She tried many ways to prevent men from groping her, and reported any incidents to the police and railways,” said Matsunaga.

“Her attempts, unfortunately didn’t help. However, the badge did,” she said.

Matsunaga, a longtime friend of Tonooka’s, was surprised by the effectiveness of the tag, and decided that it should be available to the public in the form of a badge.

“Since the tag used by Tonooka’s daughter was very big and handmade, I thought making a smaller badge would be more convenient for girls to use,” said Matsunaga.

A budget was obtained through a crowdfunding campaign titled “Stop Chikan Badge Project,” which raised a total of ¥2,120,000 during the three months following its launch in November.

The badge’s design was also solicited through crowdsourcing, and out of 441 submissions, five made the final cut and were used. The badges can be purchased online for ¥410 each via a website.

Matsunaga and members of Chikan Yokushi Katsudo Center are scheduled to distribute the badge at two stations in Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture, and outside JR Osaka Station on Monday.

“We were able to distribute all the badges today, and I felt happy giving it to young girls who knew about it. They took a bunch to give to their friends,” Matsunaga said, adding that not just young girls but men and women also took some of the badges to give to their daughters to use.

For more information, see jtim.es/ZV7XU

  • Paul Johnny Lynn

    I wish I’d been on the train when my friends were groped, the perpetrators would’ve had a very uncomfortable trip to the koban.

  • Paul Johnny Lynn

    I wish I’d been on the train when my friends were groped, the perpetrators would’ve had a very uncomfortable trip to the koban.

  • Philosopher

    It’s sad that groping is still happening to so many young women in Japan in this day and age but wonderful that a little badge seems to stop it. I wonder if the wearers need one on each side.

  • Red Chairman Toad

    Mass commuting in Tokyo is deadly horrible. A comprehensive solution to groping is to disperse the mobility of working population concentrated in downtown business areas.

    Flextime, office relocation or crowd-working assignments would give an extra space and protection for commuting women (and perhaps men as well).

    • Philosopher

      Decentralisation and flex-time are great solutions for many problems but when we’re talking about groping, I think telling people not to grope is probably far more effective. I don’t think the capacity on public transport causes sexual assault.

      Assailants cause groping – which is sexual assault — and they do it in all sorts of situations. I know of people groped on carriages with four, ten and a dozen passengers.

      • Red Chairman Toad

        See what you mean. I don’t think the current campaign is futile.

        In fact, there arises another problem: guys are “falsely” charged of groping, and many fail to prove innocence due to crowded circumstances (could end up costing their job or worse).

        There were also cases where a woman cheated, demanded monetary compensation for a quick settlement. False charge or misunderstanding is a by product of crowded commuting where people have difficulty in keeping their hands untouched. It’s indeed stressful.

      • Red Chairman Toad

        See what you mean. I don’t think the current campaign is futile.

        In fact, there arises another problem: guys are “falsely” charged of groping, and many fail to prove innocence due to crowded circumstances (could end up costing their job or worse).

        There were also cases where a woman cheated, demanded monetary compensation for a quick settlement. False charge or misunderstanding is a by product of crowded commuting where people have difficulty in keeping their hands untouched. It’s indeed stressful.

      • Philosopher

        It’s frustrating that so often men go so quickly to the false accusation problem. I would say, based on false accusation rates of similar crimes, that less than 1% are false accusations. The 99% of cases of genuine sexual assault on trains probably cause more stress to the victims and that’s where our attention should go.

        It sounds like the crowded trains and buses are a genuine problem for you and that you’re not concerned about sexual assault at all.

      • Manuel Gonzalez

        You’re just making up numbers. The police department from where I’m from in the West stated that two-thirds of the rape reports they get have been one of three: completely false, not involving a crime or complainant has dropped charges. And this is rape. Something slighter like groping happens considerably more (which is why everyone has stories of it) but so does accidentally touching someone on a crowded train (which is why everyone has stories of it as well). The solution to everything is freedom of space. I also find it silly that you believe telling people not to commit a crime is an effective solution whatsoever. They are already ashamed of what they do. In my opinion the occurrence of sexual assault has decreased solely due to spread of pornography. Take away the motivation and the chance. I can only fear that you oppose pornography as well.

      • Red Chairman Toad

        >>so does accidentally touching someone on a crowded train

        Yeah, that is exactly my point. Under an extremely “packed” condition, innocent guys are still exposed to risk of unintended act and being falsely accused of groping. Not to mention, real criminals willingly take advantage of this situation.

        All in all, everyone is under threat, and we all become unhappy unless this “structural” congestion in public transport systems remains unsolved.

      • Red Chairman Toad

        >>false accusation rates of similar crimes, that less than 1% are false accusations.

        Where exactly do the numbers you bring? Based solely on your wild assertion?

        False charges relating to groping have been now and widely recognized. There have been increasing number of reports and publication on this issue. Lawyers give service specifically on it while “survival ” guidelines have been issued.

        There are a movie or drama series such as “I Just Didn’t Do It.” Some guys even call for “men only” train car for protection. Do you really think that these developments constitute only what you call “less than 1%”?

        >>the crowded trains and buses are a genuine problem for you and that you’re not concerned about sexual assault at all.

        I do care about sex crimes whatsoever. I said I am supportive for the current campaign. You’re just looking at a tree while missing the whole picture. And notice, such a sexist narrow-minded view if not prejudice could give rise to another false accusation (not necessarily against men).

  • blondein_tokyo

    I’m proud to say I supported this campaign by donating to their kickstarter.

    I hope these badges remind guys who are intent on groping that what they are doing is morally reprehensible.

  • Tara Cheney

    Why do women have to act and put badges on their bags when it is a male problem? It’s great that these badges deter men from groping but why are men groping in the first place? Are Japanese men incapable of having sexual relationships with grown women? Do Japanese men prefer a quick, meaningless grop of an innocent Japanese school girl on a train? Do Japanese men prefer to just view porn on the net or via the proliferation of readily accessible porn magazines at “Family Mart”? A recent Japan Times article “For many young Japanese, marriage ― and sex ― are low priorities” outlined that many Japanese (guys in particular) find it too much bother to have a relationship…
    Is Abe and his old boy network in the LDP really interested in how to stop an aging Japan?

  • Tara Cheney

    Why do women have to act and put badges on their bags when it is a male problem? It’s great that these badges deter men from groping but why are men groping in the first place? Are Japanese men incapable of having sexual relationships with grown women? Do Japanese men prefer a quick, meaningless grop of an innocent Japanese school girl on a train? Do Japanese men prefer to just view porn on the net or via the proliferation of readily accessible porn magazines at “Family Mart”? A recent Japan Times article “For many young Japanese, marriage ― and sex ― are low priorities” outlined that many Japanese (guys in particular) find it too much bother to have a relationship…
    Is Abe and his old boy network in the LDP really interested in how to stop an aging Japan?

    • Ahojanen

      Unless trying to troll readers, you are still naive or prejudiced on the Japanese men. A large majority of them are far from whom you’re describing. Besides, profiles such as declining marriage rates are pretty applicable to many of non-Japanese.

      Speaking of groping, similar sex-abuse cases are emerging in other cities these days (Singapore, Hong Kong etc.) where local public transportation is becoming terribly busy due mostly to rapid urbanization. Groping is not at all unique to Japan. It is global and relating more to technicality (e.g. crowded trains).