This App is Helping Japanese Women Fight Street Harassment

Public transportation in Japan is notoriously overcrowded, and that overcrowding brings more opportunities for harassment. Japan has been working to fight this problem for decades. For their part, Tokyo police have created an app to help fight harassment that’s been downloaded over 237,000 times.

The app, called Digi Police, was developed by the Tokyo Metropolitan Police and released three years ago. Victims of harassment who use the app have access to two different methods of fending off creeps.

First, they can press a button which brings up a screen they can show to other passengers, which reads, “There is a molester. Please help,” in Japanese. Or, they can press again to activate a voice which yells “Stop it!” at “ear-piercing volume.”

The app is intended to help women get assistance when they might feel too embarrassed to speak up themselves. In Japan, as in many cultures, women often feel uncomfortable calling out abuse publicly and the app is supposed to make it easier.

Originally created to warn the elderly about financial scams and provide parents with safety information, the function to fend off molesters was added a few months later.

“Thanks to its popularity, the number [of downloads] is increasing by about 10,000 every month,” said police official Keiko Toyamine. The numbers are truly shocking for a public-service app but show just how much of a need women had for such a tool.

Interest in the app increased last year after a female pop star was assaulted at the entrance to her home.

In Japan, groping is a crime carrying a sentence of up to six months in prison or fines up to about $4,500. The punishments don’t appear to deter perpetrators, however. According to Tokyo police, 2,620 sexual crimes, including 1,750 instances of groping, were reported in 2017 on trains or at stations.

Japan has been working on this problem for decades, as harassment on public transportation is common. Particularly during peak times, passengers can be packed into carriages so tightly commuters can fall asleep standing up without falling over. These situations make it easy for creeps to grope women and difficult for women to get away or get the attention of someone who can help.

Tokyo introduced women-only train carriages back in 2000 to help protect women from assault and harassment on public transportation. The women-only cars provide a safe-place for women commuters, and while they don’t eliminate the problem of street harassment altogether, nearly 70 percent of women in Tokyo support them.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

35 comments

Paulo R
Paulo Reeson13 hours ago

a bit of progress.

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Ganaisha Calvin
Ganaisha Calvin6 days ago

good for them! women's safety should be non-negotiable all over the world.

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Richard A

Singapore has solved this exact problem by making nonconsensual sexual touching of women by men a caning offence. A minimum of three cane strokes are mandatory but additional strokes can be added for greater degrees of violation. There are even signs posted on public transit to remind the men to behave themselves or face jail and caning. Most nations in the world had some form of whipping in place for men until at least the middle part of the 1900s, and sexual crimes were commonly deterred and punished with whipping (in addition to a prison term). Singapore is an example of how nation can be very modern and advanced without throwing away a very effective means of preventing sexual and violent crimes against women and promoting respect for women. Some peple worry that whipping sounds uncivilized, but if it is carried out professionally and as humanely as possible (with no unnecessary excesses), it can actually be a very civilizing thing by keeping the men under proper control and keeping the women safe and feeing safe and valued. Women who visit Singapore tend to notice these things.
In places other than just Singapore, it has been found that the threat of whipping in addition to time in prison is a much more effective to deterrent ot sex cime than prison alone. Women's organizations should consider advocating for bringing back whipping for sexual and violent crimes against women. The testoserone-driven sexual and aggressive drives in men and the ph

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Joan E
Joan E11 days ago

Glad to see women having the resources to protect themselves.

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Hannah A
Hannah A13 days ago

thank you

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Peggy B
Peggy B16 days ago

TYFS

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Winn A
Winn A16 days ago

It's a start. Thanks

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Lesa D
Lesa D16 days ago

thank you Lauren...

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Leo C
Leo C17 days ago

Thank you for posting!

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Mark Turner
Mark Turner17 days ago

Ty.

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