by Ewa Nowogorski
The laws surrounding rape in Japan are very old, dating back hundreds of years with little revision. In a society largely run by men, change has been slow and inadequate. There are many kinds of rape that are not acknowledged by these laws, and for a case to be even considered, there must have been an active and physical struggle from the victim’s side. A verbal “no” is not necessarily enough, and this rule does not take into account victims who are paralyzed with fear and unable to move or speak, or women who are asleep or impaired due to the effects of drugs or alcohol.
Over 95 percent of incidents of sexual violence in Japan are not reported to the police according to government figures, and for good reason. Discussing rape is perceived as “embarrassing” in Japan and public opinion often sways towards blaming the victim rather than the attacker.
Only very recently in the past few decades have a few brave women come out in public about their traumatizing rape experiences, actively suing the assailants when they have failed them. Police very rarely help in such cases, often blaming the female victims for being too promiscuous or drinking too much in the case of drunken rapes. Japanese police, as part of their investigation, sometimes force victims to reenact the assault with a life-size doll, while being observed and questioned by officers. This “investigation technique” is abusive, unnecessary, and retraumatising for victims. This kind of technique is definitely unnecessary and should not be used. It’s just ridiculous to watch as an outsider as well.
Not only in regards to laws, there are many problems with how people treat sex and rape as well. Views are very different from liberal American views such as my own. Most men believe that if they have a girlfriend or a wife, they are entitled to having sex with her, even if she doesn’t want to. It’s their right because it’s their lover/spouse. Therefore it’s not rape. While this idea might disgust many outsiders, we must work towards creating negative stigmas surrounding this way of thinking.