Workshop at Tokyo Keizai University

photos: Prilla Tania
translation from Japanese to English: Emma Ota
event organized via dislocate mediactions

No of participants: 30+
Age of participants: 18-20 years
There were both male and female participants.

Brief outline of the workshop:
Workshop participants mapped places in Tokyo they like to visit.
They also mapped places in Tokyo they didn't like to visit, or felt uncomfortable in, also mentioned what caused discomfort in those places.

We briefly introduced BN and also shared images of 'women only' transport from across the planet. Is women only transport a solution? An easy strategy? (more thoughts on that in the next blog post)

There seems to be no fixed definition of street sexual harassment in Japan. In Japan 'secu hara' is seen as different from 'chikan'. Chikan is loosely identified as groping, touching, rubbing and flashing.

The students were asked to think of as many words and associations with chikan and sexual harassment. Here's what they had to say :

The meaning of sexual harassment is too wide and undefined so I can not write about it

It is the lowest part of people

Being hit on by a stranger

When i was a high school student one morning I was chased by a flasher. Chikan in the train. Exposing sexual desire in public is sexual harassment.

I was walking one night and followed by someone, kept grabbing my skirt and touched my rear.

Disturbing action towards the opposite sex.

I was on my bike and riding through the town and stop at traffic signal then someone touched my thighs.

I had experience of being a victim of chikan. I think this type of person is disgusting.

A criminal act.

Something judged by the girl.

I was accused on the train.

The unwanted touching of the body.

It has a strong image of being something perpartrated by men against women, but the truth is That women can also be perpetrators.

The line of sexual harrassment is different for each person. so it is not a problem.

Being asked where you live.

Being made to feel bad by someone.

To cause suffering. doesnt matter which gender you are.

To cause pain to someone, even just talking and overstepping a certain distance.

Causing pain to another person, a despicable act.

I dont have any expereince so i dont know.

I am not interested./ i have nothing to write.

Sexual harrassment is bad but i dont think excessive reaction by the authorities is the answer.

I dont want to write about it.

Being touched sexually

Biting ear.

I dont really have that expereince so i dont know.

Doing something rude/offensive.

Wave of sexual desire.

I have no idea. sorry.

* we will be sorting the response based on male/ female as soon as the translation is ready.

5 students both male and female analyzed the response with the following statements:

I thought that women generally experience sexual harassment and this activity made it clear to me.

Well personally and amongst my friends I have never been in contact with such a thing, but now I realize that people do suffer from such acts.

We keep saying sexual harassment, sexual harassment but i think there is a problem with the word. I don't think it is quite appropriate. We keep repeating the same word but a word can not define the meaning. I think we should approach the problem differently. Maybe we should use some other words. the term sexual harassment is so vague I don't think it is helpful to discuss the actual term.

Well we just heard about a park especially for women, and obviously at night/in the evening women don't feel safe to go outside and so i thought it could be a good idea to have women only parks, but of course rather than this situation it is much better to attain a safer society without any gender bias. We still live in a society with a very unequal balance between men and women. To have women only carriages on trains and a lot of people really appreciate this service but it does not solve or address the problem. what we really need to do is to attain complete equality between the sexes. we should all work together for a safer society.

Well in our discussions we have really been making a distinction between men and women and firstly i think this kind of thinking is problematic. it is not only women who experience sexual harassment but also men.

* * *

Arigatoh! Thank you!

Coming up>
an introduction to Japan Action Heroes blog + interviews


'Women only' solution?

'Women Only' trains from 7 am-9 pm in Tokyo.

revisit an old

Compilation of recent conversations about the women only train service in New Delhi:

Action Hero Ratna: Will hijra's be 'allowed' in the women's coaches? In Bombay trains they do travel in the women only compartment but from what I've seen don't sit down, even if there is place.

One the one hand it may enable mobility for women who previously didn't travel or traveled very little because they felt unsafe,on the other hand of course it doesn't solve anything,
maybe women who don't agree with it shouldn't use it, and instead travel by the general coaches?

Action Hero Annie: that poses its own set of problems. women who choose to not travel by ladies only coaches are seen as fair game sometimes. the 'why are they here if not to be felt up' logic. I once argued with a male cousin about women's seats in buses. I said I would never make a man vacate his seat so i could sit down. he said he would wonder at what kind of woman i was, if i refused to accept the offer of a seat in a crowded bus.
train of difficult choices... where do you get off?


Blank Noise - Tokyo? Street sexual harassment/ Chikan in Japan

Event: Action Hero Game (crash course)
Location: Akihabara Tokyo, 3331 Arts via Dislocate
Date: 9/10/2010

Participants describe what they felt when they experienced the game.

Game Introduction:
*Blank Noise Action Hero Game
Duration- 2 hours

Task 1: each participant AKA ACTION HERO is asked to select a location unfamiliar to him/ her in Akihabara- Tokyo. The Action Hero goes to that site and gets instructions for 6 tasks. The tasks themselves are a 'secret' - they range from observing/ imagining/ to taking action in the form of having a conversation with a stranger. What choices do the action heroes make? What 'action hero' moment has each of them experienced? more photos on facebook

Action Hero Pila
Action Hero Ryo

We're in Japan!