• Kyodo

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One in 10 Japanese women has been harassed or stalked, and 24 percent of wives and 17 percent of husbands have been victims of spousal abuse, two separate studies said Friday.

The findings in the first study, the first of its kind to be conducted by the Cabinet Office, were derived from a December poll of adult men and women that drew 3,544 valid responses.

Of the respondents, 11 percent of women and 4 percent of men said they had been harassed by people of the opposite sex.

Among the victims, 29 percent of women and 16 percent of men said they feared for their lives. The victims were mainly in their 30s.

Current and former boyfriends and girlfriends accounted for 39 percent of the harassers, followed by acquaintances and friends at 21 percent and workplace colleagues or contacts at 20 percent, the report said.

Of the victims, 38 percent said they had received offensive email or seen harassing messages posted on the Internet. But 57 percent said they had not, suggesting they had suffered physical stalking or other forms of harassment.

Of all the female victims, 62 percent said they made changes in their daily lives as a result.

In a multiple-choice question, 27 percent of the female victims said they became afraid to go out, 20 percent said they developed psychological or physical disorders, 18 percent said they could not sleep and 15 percent said they took time off work or quit their jobs, the survey showed.

The report also showed 78 percent of female victims and 41 percent of male victims had consulted someone about the problem, but only 10 percent of the women and 3 percent of the men reported it to the police.

A separate survey by the Cabinet Office last September said that only 40 percent of the 1,558 local governments that responded to the poll offered consultations to victims of harassment or stalking.

Asked why, 66 percent cited difficulties hiring staff with experience in dealing with such victims, 43 percent said it was a police matter, and 29 percent said they could not afford to offer such services.

Haruko Arimura, minister in charge of women’s empowerment, told reporters she will deliver the survey results to local governments and urge them to strengthen their support.

The other survey released Friday said 24 percent of wives had suffered abuse, whether physical, psychological or both, from husbands, and that 17 percent of husbands had been victims of domestic violence by their wives. It said 57 percent of all victims opted not to report their ordeals to others.

Of the female victims, 11 percent said they later separated from their spouses, while 46 percent said they wanted to but didn’t, citing concerns about children and family income.

Twenty-seven percent said their children, too, had suffered at the hands of spouses. Much of it was psychological, including shouting or ignoring, not physical abuse, it said.

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