Poster implies that female students are to blame for groping.

If you’ve ever travelled on a Japanese train, chances are you’ve walked past or sat near a poster warning of the dangers of chikan, which literally translates to “pervert” or “molester”, and is commonly used to refer to groping, and the men who grope women on crowed trains.

As something that affects many schoolgirls in particular, a number of organisations have come out with goods to help female students in the fight against chikan, while police departments regularly use posters aimed at young women to encourage them to report assaults.

While anti-groping posters continue to be used at stations and onboard trains, one school recently came under fire for displaying a poster that warned about the dangers of short skirts rather than the dangers of groping. The poster read:

“The short skirt that you think is ‘kawaii’ leads to sex crimes. And it’s not just [a preventative measure] for yourself, but for your friends and companions too.”

The controversial message was brought to the attention of the Internet by a Twitter user who said her younger sister saw the poster up at school and sent her an image of it, saying “This is ridiculous”.

The original tweet has since been deleted by the uploader after it made headlines with major media outlets, but the image of the poster can still be seen online. Along with the words “Beware of chikan!” and an ugly brown handprint is the image of a schoolgirl’s skirt, with the hem falling above the knee.

People who saw the poster online were outraged at its message, which suggests that the length of a girl’s school uniform is to blame for groping incidents. The outcry against the statement, with people pointing out that the victim is not to blame for the action of gropers, quickly reached the company who created the poster, Kanko, which is one of Japan’s biggest manufacturers of school uniforms.

Designed to help prevent crime, the posters were put up at a number of schools, but after the recent uproar, the company decided to recall all the posters from schools on 15 January.

They also posted a lengthy apology on their website, saying:

“We are aware that our security awareness poster has received a lot of criticism and complaints online. We deeply apologise to those who were made to feel uncomfortable by the poster. We are also sorry for the significant inconvenience and worry caused. Please allow us to tell you about the poster creation process and how we will prevent this from happening again.”

▼ The company also posted a link to their apology on their social media channels.

As the apology went on, though, it became apparent that the company wanted to make clear that the poster was created in conjunction with crime prevention activities conducted by police at schools back in 2012.

“The poster with the statement “The short skirt that you think is “kawaii” leads to sex crimes” was created by our company in 2012. At that time, police were conducting seminars at junior and senior high schools, heightening awareness on the issue [of chikan] and providing students with self-defence tips and essential knowledge on how to protect themselves. As a company that’s deeply involved with junior and senior high school students, we were sympathetic to the issue and jointly conducted seminars and engaged in awareness programs. The poster was created as part of the awareness program and was put up at a number of schools.”

This section of the apology suggests that their message was in line with advice doled out by police to students at the time, which, if true, is a worrying state of affairs. However, cautioning women to take measures to protect themselves is different to blatantly blaming the length of their skirt for the crimes, and Kanko acknowledges this by saying:

“As has been pointed out, the statement thatThe short skirt that you think is “kawaii” leads to sex crimes” suggests that the woman herself has done something wrong. We deeply apologise for the deep offence this statement caused. We will reexamine our processes to ensure this doesn’t happen again.”

While it took six years for the poster to come to light and be recalled in the midst of heavy criticism, chikan incidents are yet to show any signs of disappearing. In fact, it’s still so common that the word “chikan” even appears on the U.K. government’s official online foreign travel advice for Japan.

Hopefully the controversy surrounding this poster will remind women that incidents of groping are not their fault, and encourage them to speak out and make reports to authorities. After all, it’s never okay to touch people without their consent, no matter what they’re wearing.

Source: My Game News Flash
Featured image: Pakutaso