There are new trends in Japan concerning sexual exploitation of children, says the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. Maud de Boer-Buquicchio travelled to Japan in October for an eight day mission (19 to 26) during which she visited Tokyo, Osaka, Kawanishi and Naha.
These “new phenomena”, as Maud de Boer-Buquicchio describes them, are:
- “Compensated dating among schoolgirls” (enjo kosai in Japanese);
- “High-school girl walking date” (joshi-kosei osanpo);
- “Photos and other material” depicting school girls with 7 to 12 years old in “sexually provocative poses and “junior idols” (chakuero).
On her last day in Japan, Maud de Boer-Buquicchio issued a written statement describing “these profitable activities” as “an enormous business” that “appear to be socially accepted and tolerated.” “In many cases, these activities are preparatory stages for potential forms of sexual exploitation, such as prostitution and the involvement in the production of child abuse material.”
There are a “number of gaps” that Japan must address in order to “effectively eradicate and prevent the sexual exploitation of children”, states Maud de Boer-Buquicchio.
“Investigations and prosecutions are hardly ever initiated without a complaint lodged by the child victim. Bearing in mind that the offenders are often known to the child victim, it is a big burden for the latter to be expected to file a complaint. The police should take a proactive role in this regard.”
“The few cases that are prosecuted often end up with convictions that are suspended or entail low penalties (e.g. fines). These penalties are not commensurate with the grave nature of the offences, and send a signal of social and institutional tolerance for these crimes, while victims are stigmatised and blamed.”
The United Nations Special Rapporteur says she will present a “comprehensive report” on this visit to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in March 2016.
I interviewed her for this blog last April, one year after she had been appointed by the UN Human Rights Council for a three-year tenure as a Special Rapporteur. In an era of massive data collection in all areas of our life, data on children’s sexual exploitation are rare and lack organization, explained Maud de Boer-Buquicchio.
“One of the problems in this area is that we don’t have the data, it would be very important to have disaggregated data”, she declared. “When we are talking about child prostitution in some parts of the world we know that a lot of the victims are girls aged between 10 to 15 years. But there is no solid reliable data.”