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    Beyond #MeToo - Protecting Silence Breakers and Changing Social Norms

    By Karen Boeker, AWC Denmark

    The session started when Ms Shiori Ito told her story about being raped in the most humble and trustworthy way. In the beginning and again in the end she emphasized that the main reason to go public was her sister. She realized that her own experience would have been worse for her younger and very shy sister. She hoped to prevent others from similar experiences.

    Reporting her experience to the police was traumatizing and realizing that she probably wouldn’t have any chance to get justice encouraged her to fight for change.
    The law about rape in Japan was 110 years old and almost never led to justice for the victim/survivor. Japanese society is more likely to blame the survivor than hold the rapist responsible. First people would ask what the women has done wrong before even thinking about the actions of a man.

    The law has changed by now thanks to the courage of Ms Ito and her lawyers and the organization Human Rights Now (HRN). For example, the minimum prison term for rape was extended from 3 to five years. But there are still two kind of rape laws (rape and almost rape). “Almost rape” means for example when the victim is drugged and not fully aware of what was happening.
    There’s still a lot to do to make it easier to report rapes in Japan.
    Opening rape crisis center
    Better health and questioning service
    Changing the view of society
    Starting the #WeToo movement because in Japanese society “I” and “me” is not working. It’s just against the rules of being patient and humble.

    Listening to her story and seeing her fighting for the best way to share this experience was very emotional and heart-breaking. What a strong young woman who is taking action for others and standing up for what is right, even after she and her family were threatened that they would lose everything. It is shocking to realize how frozen and men-driven modern Japanese society is when it comes to sexual assault and harassment. Ms Ito has written a book about her experience that isn’t translated into English yet. 

    Read more about Ms. Ito’s story here.


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