Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Mari Tonooka is a mother living in Tokyo. Her daughter is in her 2nd year of high-school and has been distressed for a long time because of her daily commute during rush hour. Since starting school in 2014, she has frequently been a victim of train groping. 
She is an ordinary girl, more likely to be perceived as inconspicuous than not. In fact, she is exactly the quiet and demure type, that sneaky sexual predators target. She tried various preventive measures such as catching trains at different times, carrying small security buzzers, asking male classmates to accompany her, and changing where she stood in the train, none of which really worked. She was reluctant to even speak, a!nd would often came back home crying.
A year passed without her being able to find an effective solution. By that time, she had built up the courage to say, “Please stop!” She was simply ignored, or worse, shouted at for accusing people. She felt helpless, and felt that she had to keep fighting on her own. At the start of this year however, she plucked up the courage, caught a groper and filed a complaint with the police, which led to his arrest.
After this incident, she and her mum again began thinking of ways to prevent train gropers. Catching criminals was not their aim...they just wanted to find an effective means to prevent harassment. What seemed to be the best idea, was to warn potential gropers: They came up with the groping-prevention card in April 2015, which had the words,"Groping is a crime. I will not be/keep silent (Will not cry myself to sleep).” She attached the card to the strap of her bag, on her shoulder.
She went to school with it, and the groping stopped! The card deterred the gropers from her. There was no need for her to raise her voice, or to be courageous. They later replaced the card with a badge, improving its look.
Because their wish was not only to getting rid of victims but also perpetrators, it was the named i!t“Groper-deterrence” badge instead of “Groper-eradication” badge.
When the mother published this innovative idea on SNS (social networking service), she received many responses. It led to the launch of the “Anti-Groping Badge Project.” They discovered that there were many others out there who also wanted this 'magical' badge that prevented crime from happening. Along with a new design, they began their crowdsourcing and fundraising online to produce, distribute, and promote similar badges, which will run until mid-late November. Meanwhile, their efforts have been featured in various news sources, and the number of supporters is growing.
Although they want the new badge to be of “a design that all women can wear without feeling uncomfortable,” it would also be great if the winning design will not limit its users to young women and high school girls. It's not just women that are groped on trains, men too! Hopefully in the future, the badge will develop into something that anyone can wear, e.g. on their shirts and on their caps. The task at the moment is to find a way to prevent the wearer of the badges from becoming isolated because of it. 

According to the Metropolitan Police Statistics, there were 340 reported cases in 2009 for indecent assault on the train. Of the number of arrests for crimes against nuisance laws, 3880 were related to groping. However, stats also suggest that only about 1/10 of the victims alert the police or file a complaint. Reports of the number of arrests do not seem to say much about the reality. Groping is a despicable crime, takes advantage of the shameful feelings of the victims. Many do not raise their voice because they are embarrassed or do not want to cause commotion. The idea of preventing the crime before it takes place with a tiny badge, is really revolutionary.!
If you would like to support the project, please SHARE this story with your friends. I hope that one day prevention also leads to eradication. Let us aim for a society, in which people, young and old/ male and female, can ride the train to school or work in peace!