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The Problem of Sexual Harrassment Against Women in Japan

by Ewa Nowogorski

Sexual harrassment will probably continue in this world as long as there are men and women alike. Some people take joy in harrassing others and some take joy in actually being harassed. But most people are not comfortable with the unwanted sexual comments or advances.

Japan seems to be a sexually frustrated country. Men can be so petty sometimes that they will literally get under subway grates and hide in dirty places to lie and wait just to get a view underneath women’s skirts as they walk by. This happens in America too, and it’s not pleasant for anyone. In Japan, there have been countless cases of sexual harrassment in public places, with men secretly photographing the underskirts of women and groping them on the train. Because of this, Tokyo now has women-only cars on trains and all modern phones made a shutter sound when you take a photo, so secret photos cannot be taken.

In recent years, there have been new rules implemented to prevent sexual harrassment, and some of them seem to be a little bit extreme for me. They’re also ironic because while the government is focusing to stop these minor issues, it often overlooks rape and forgives most perpetrators.

For example, men who compliment women’s clothes, even saying something as innocent as “your clothes look cute today” can be considered sexual harrassment. “You look pretty after losing weight” is also sexual harrassment. You can now not only not touch women, but you cannot dare say anything about their appearance either. I do think it’s extreme myself even though I am a women, because maybe one or two of those compliments can be ok. But it’s definitely crossing boundaries when a man at the work place only focuses on a woman’s appearance instead of her actual work.

Sexual harassment is not tolerated by some, but most women stll just grin and bear the annoying comments. Subtle harassment is rarely reported unfortunately. In America, when someone cat calls you on the street or inappropriately touches you in the office, I think the issues are always taken a little more seriously.

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