Tired of being grabbed and fondled on Tokyo subways, Japanese women are speaking out and asking police for help in stopping “chikan,” or subway molesters. Police have asked the train companies to consider single-sex cars for women and children, a scenario not seen in 40 years.
Subway molestation has been a well-known problem for years, and the train companies are increasing their campaign against the harassment. Posters in subways tell women to beware of and immediately report molesters. Announcements are being made in the stations and in the cars to warn molesters that they are being watched. “We are asking women who have suffered from abuse to report cases before the fondlers escalate their attacks,” said a police spokesman. At one train station, police have arrested 34 men so far this year, almost double last year’s number. Women are also becoming more aggressive, complaining publicly and shouting in the subway to humiliate the grabber.
Many men in Tokyo openly look at pornography or at comics depicting graphic rape scenes while on the subways, in front of women and children. Teenage girls in school uniforms are victimized most often, because many Japanese men find the outfits sexy. The subways are so crowded that it is often hard to tell who is doing the grabbing. While some women support the establishment of women-only train cars, others are worried that any woman who rode with men would be seen as wanting to be fondled.