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Sexual Harassment and Domestic Violence


Omnipotence personified
15 Mar 2003
You learn something new every day. I stumbled on this fantastic and surprising article about sexual harassment and domestic violence in Japan. Also interesting is how it mentions in passing that Japan has no mechanism for punitive damages in the legal system. Legal folks feel free to start a thread on that!

Some quotes from the author Yukiko Tsunoda, Attorney at Law

窶廡irst of all, unlike the laws in the U.S. and other countries, Japanese law does not say anything about sexual harassment and domestic violence. This means that Japanese society does not recognize the concepts of sexual harassment and domestic violence. As a result of the legal attitude and of similar social attitudes, we have not yet coined appropriate Japanese terms for these concepts.

窶懌?ヲthe Japanese criminal justice system has rejected recognizing domestic violence as a crime. Furthermore, our criminal justice system has validated a husband's "legal" right to rape his wife simply because she is his wife.

窶弑nfortunately, the vast majority of society is seemingly indifferent to this issue. I think that Japanese people must recognize how the issue of violence against women has been treated outside Japan and how very important the issue is not only for women but also for men and for Japanese society as a whole.

Please check out the full article at the following link.

Quite amazing stuff! I always knew Japan lagged a bit behind on women窶冱 issues, but I had no idea! I have been looking for more current info (as the article is from 1997) but have come up short. Anybody know of some other resources or have some reactions? I窶冦 still pretty stunned. I guess it goes to show that while you can, in 50 or so years, take a country from a pseudo-feudal agricultural society into the modern world, social change unfortunately takes much, much longer.

Women of Japan unite!
That doesn't surprises me. Things are not as bad as it seems on paper, since sexual harassment (sekuhara) is actually recognised by the society and I have seen posters in offices that read : "no to sexual harassment".

If a man touches a woman in a train and is being caught (if she screams), he risks a heavy fine and losing his job. That's quite new in Japan. I don't think there are laws for men being touched by (old ?) women or other men... :eek:

I've justly seen a programme on TV yesterday that simulate cases of sekuhara and they asked different lawyers how much the victim could get if they sued the men. It was about 2.500.000yen for a women being harassed 20min at a job interview. Quite unbelievable. For someone harassed everyday at work by her boss during a few weeks/months, I would understand, but 20min where she could actually leave the room if she wanted, that seems a bit much. The 2 men never touched her and they just said things like she looked good in that skirt and making allusion to goint out together and have fun.

I guessed anyone could ask compensation to their boss for emotional distress caused by pressure, too high objectives or being forced to work overtime or even to go and drink with them after work. I guess that a schoolteacher threatening to expell a student from the school is causing greater disconfort and mental torture on the moment than a men saying to a women that he likes her skirt, even if he looks like a old pervert.

That's just my opinion, but if women think I don't understand them, then they don't understand how professional/academic stress can be for some men. in Japan, more people commit suicide for failing exam or losing their job than for sexual harassment, which seems to confirms what I say. But there are no laws against mean bosses/teachers. Everything is relative. For Mandylion, the women situation in Japan is thinkable, but for me most laws and human behaviours in the world are still at a very primitive stage. Japan at least is more secure for lots of things than most other (incl. Western) countries.
Maciamo, I agree that they should get compensation for mental and physical abuse at work and at school. From what I've heard, I think that is just as big of a problem, if not an even bigger problem in Japan than sexual harassment. I have seen it first-hand.

Before we were married, my husband's previous boss made him work double shifts where he would have time to sleep 2 or 3 hours per day(and he would have to do that at work). This would go on for weeks and months. He was physically sick from it. It caused him so much stress he had stomach ulcers. His boss also struck him a few times, too, when he didn't live up to his ridiculous expectations.

Only when we married did things change somewhat. Now, since my husband is the only "management" person that lives in the same town as the company, he is always taken advantage of. It is like he is a doctor. He is on call 24 hours a day.

The Japanese are relentless when it comes to working. It causes a lot of strain not just for him, but for me as well.
Nice example Maciamo, but I saw the same type of program where a woman was only given 500,000 yen (or about 5,000 USD) more than the figure you listed for a year of blatant abuse from three, yes three, male bosses. That comes to about one year's salary for the lady in question. This figure was from a real court case and not a hypothetical, let's ask the lawyers type of deal. Also, while fun to watch, I do not put much value to anything legal on TV, Japanese or US. TV tends to like to go with the flow of public opinion while courts in Japan are much, much, much more conservative and ponderous in their decisions. I strongly doubt the lady would get her money if she went to court.

I do have to wonder how many cases get reported. The article claimed 1% to 10% of domestic abuse cases get reported. That is ridiculous for any culture. Even then the burden of proof is on the defendant. How many sexual harassment cases get reported? True, there are strict policies for groping on trains, but if they served to be an effective deterrence, why do there need to be special ツ"ladies onlyツ" cars? Traditionally, and pointed out in the article, fault and shame are applied to victims of abuse and harassment. I hardly think that is an environment conducive to the empowerment of women and if anything, makes groping and the like a fairly safe gamble as opposed to the impossibility it should be. If you were a lecher out for a good time, would a 10% or less chance of getting caught stop you?

I would say good for the lady who stood up for herself after the interview. More women should. I personally have a 0 tolerance view of harassment and abuse. She could have been in the interview strapped to a rocket pack for quick escape and to me it wouldn't matter. She should not have been placed in the situation by the interviewer to begin with. One harassing comment is one comment too many.

Sure, there are signs in offices about stopping sexual harassment (I personally have never seen one), but there seem to be no effective punishment mechanisms (punitive damages) to make the less progressive companies come up to par. Have you heard of seminars for employees on the issue and how to stop it? I also see signs not to litter right next to a pile of discarded trash. It is one thing to have a social contract of sorts to prevent sexual harassment, but women, and men for that matter, deserve to have the full legal weight of society on their side. In Japan, at least for the moment, the legal establishment still treats wives in cases of domestic abuse essentially as property and abused women in the workplace as second class citizens. Sure, other countries have their problems too, I don't deny that, but I gotta call ツ'em as I see ツ'em. I love Japan, I love the US, but I view neither through rose-colored glasses. Don't even get me started on US issues.

My point is this, from what I have read, the legal status of women who face domestic violence and sexual harassment in Japan is deplorable.

As for mental abuses of other kinds, mean bosses, teachers irrationally threatening to expel students, those fall under completely different legal issues. Kirei na me, your husbands old boss was basically in violation of every labor standards law Japan has. I agree these abuses are important to stop as well. I would love to hear more about the other cases in another forum.

Great discussion guys! Cheers-
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