Plan for Gender Equality 2000

III. Creating a Society where Human Rights of Women are Promoted and Defended

7. Elimination of All Forms of Violence Against Women

[Basic Direction of Measures]

"Violence against women" means any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, whether occurring in public or private life; it is an extremely broad concept that encompasses sexual crimes, prostitution, domestic violence and sexual harassment. Such violence against women infringes upon their basic rights and restricts their freedom, dealing a grave blow in all areas, both to the victims themselves and to society at large. The fact that the damage inflicted by such violence tends to remain hidden below the surface makes the problem even more difficult to combat.

Thus, based on the aims of the "Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women" adopted at the United Nations General Assembly in 1993, a comprehensive study of current systems should be conducted relating not only to proper criminal investigations and control, but to all areas ranging from prevention to ex post facto relief, and then to take a broad response involving a variety of approaches, e.g., the establishment of an environment to prevent violence against women and the enhancement of relief measures for women who have fallen victim to violence. An especially active response should be taken to violence against children, who are still maturing physically and mentally. Also, action should be taken in cooperation with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), both in Japan and abroad, which play an important role in the elimination of violence against women.

(1) Dealing strictly with violence against women

It is essential to strictly enforce rules on violence against women, including sexual crimes such as rape and indecent assault, prostitution and domestic violence etc., in order to ensure that the human rights of women are properly respected or restored while giving full consideration to the position of the victim and to the protection of privacy. At the same time, measures should be strengthened to prevent the potential for violence, as well as measures to provide protection and relief to victims. Recognition that sexual harassment is an act infringing upon the human rights of women should be increased and countermeasures strengthened, e.g., promotion of action by companies and other organizations to prevent such acts, and enhancement of consultative and support functions.

In recent years, an increasing number of young children have been suffering from sexual abuse through the intermediation of "telephone clubs," and so on. Also, child prostitution in Southeast Asia and other regions has become an international problem. Based on this reality, effective measures to address prostitution involving children should be studied.

[Concrete Measures]

(a) Dealing strictly with sexual crimes

- Take measures to prevent the non-reporting of sexual crimes and to strengthen criminal investigations

Promote measures to prevent the non-reporting of sexual crimes (e.g., the establishment of an environment and mechanisms that enable women to comfortably and easily report when they have fallen victim to sexual crimes). Conduct thorough and just criminal investigations to clear cases, including committing more resources and putting efforts into research and development of investigative techniques.

- Strictly enforce related rules and appropriately punish

Strictly enforce rules on rape, indecency through compulsion, inducement to obscene acts under the Child Welfare Law and so on, and effect appropriate punishment in order to cope with sexual crimes against women.

(b) Taking comprehensive measures against prostitution

- Tighten controls toward the elimination of prostitution

Strictly enforce related rules such as Anti-Prostitution Law, the Child Welfare Law, the Penal Code, ordinances, etc. which aim to eliminate prostitution in order to ensure that women do not fall victim, especially as prostitution comes to take new and disguised forms (e.g., prostitution at special private bathhouses and through "date club" agencies) and prostitution involving foreign women and children increases.

- Strengthen measures against child prostitution

Promote the full application of all laws and regulations to crackdown on prostitution involving children which presents a tremendous barrier to their healthy development. Strive to rescue and protect the victims and study more effective measures to protect the human rights of children with reference to international trends.

- Protect women from the damages of prostitution and support their rehabilitation

In order to prevent prostitution, identify and provide guidance to those who are likely to turn to prostitution through consultations with women who are in unstable circumstances economically and psychologically.

Provide guidance and support (e.g. assistance for finding work, adjustment of family relationships) to women on probation for having engaged in prostitution, to ensure observation of their probation conditions while living in ordinary situations and to facilitate their rehabilitation without returning to prostitution. Enhance correctional education at prisons, Juvenile Training Schools and women's guidance homes.

(c) Ascertaining conditions and promoting countermeasures against domestic violence and other violence which tends to go unreported.

- Promote countermeasures against domestic violence

Set up a system for consultation on domestic violence (e.g., wife battery) to provide guidance and advice, and make referrals as necessary to the appropriate facilities, provide accommodations, etc., without treating such incidents as non-criminal "domestic" incidents. Strictly and properly enforce relevant rules while giving due consideration to the husband-wife relationship, parent-child relationship, etc., if such incidents constitute crimes such as battery, bodily injury, rape, etc.

- Promote measures against child abuse

Enhance and strengthen structures for consultation involving private volunteers and others in order to identify and prevent such incidents as a strengthened response against child abuse and other such violence against children in the home.

Assign women officers to consultation and reporting desks of national police headquarters and police stations to make it easy for victims to report incidents of violence. Enhance and strengthen youth consultation services at national police headquarters and police stations through various measures.

Ensure close cooperation among the police, child counseling centers, child welfare facilities, health centers, public welfare commissioners/child welfare commissioners, and other related facilities in bringing to justice or taking another appropriate response in consideration of the child's best interests, and rescuing, protecting and providing full care to the abused child, when handling an incident of abuse.

(d) Promoting measures to prevent sexual harassment

- Promote measures to prevent sexual harassment

Ascertain the actual conditions related to sexual harassment, inform the general public of the concept of sexual harassment, increase recognition that it is a problem that cannot be overlooked from the perspective of human rights and positively address the matter in counseling on human rights and in the investigation and disposition of cases involving infringement of human rights.

Conduct activities to enlighten companies on the importance of taking preventive action to prevent sexual harassment at the workplace. Study effective measures (e.g., legislative action) to encourage preventive measures on the part of companies related to sexual harassment in the workplace. Formulate and publicize guidelines on specific measures to be taken by companies. Enhance consultation and support functions, e.g., counseling for prefectural Women's and Young Workers' Offices and company guidance.

Responsible authorities: National Police Agency, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Health and Welfare, Ministry of Labor

(2) Enhancement of recuperative measures for women victims of violence

[Basic Direction of Measures]

Violence against women inflicts a serious psychological impact on the victims. These women often feel reluctant to consult with government authorities and report to investigative authorities. This not only results in un-reported incidents, but also presents a barrier to the protection/relief of the victims and to the proper punishment of the attackers.

To prevent such a situation, an environment conducive to the filing of claims by women should be established and measures that consider the psychological state of the victims should be promoted. For example, to ensure that further psychological damage is not inflicted upon the victim during the hearings and witness examination, etc., concerned personnel should undergo training to become fully aware of what they need to know.

Also, cooperation with private relief organizations to protect victims from repeat incidents and reprisals by their attackers.

In the case of foreign women, measures that consider their specific circumstances should be taken.

(a) Enhancing consultation, protection and relief measures for women victims

- Enhance consultation/counseling measures

Improve consultation and counseling functions of civil liberties institutions, criminal investigative authorities, and other public and private facilities and groups for women, while informing society in general about the location and availability of such services.

Enhance counseling services for the victims, utilize women investigative and counseling staff, especially in the case of sexual crimes, and strengthen the counseling structure through staff with expertise in the relevant areas in order to lessen the psychological damage to women who have fallen victim to violence. Provide continuous support to ensure that the incident involving child victims does not exert a negative influence on the healthy growth of the child.

Continue appointing women Civil Liberties Commissioners to establish an environment that makes it easy for women to file claims of violence.

- Protect victims during hearings and trials

Have police and prosecutors give sufficient consideration to the psychological state of victims during hearings. During the trial stage, make recommendations to the courts that measures be taken to make it easy for the victim to provide testimony (e.g., keeping the trial closed to the public, and having certain observers or the defendant leave the courtroom) and to make objections to inappropriate questioning, thus protecting the victim.

- Ensure the safety of the victims and supporting their return to society

Domestic violence and violence inflicted by acquaintances continue, while violence involving gangs presents the additional danger of reprisal by the attackers. For this reason, temporary protection in emergencies and support for the return of victims to society is extremely important. Bearing this in mind, strengthen cooperation with consultative and relieve facilities operated by local governments and NGOs and consider ways to support such organizations.

Enhance measures for ensuring the safety of victims through, for example, police patrol and visits to the victims to provide guidance on crime prevention.

- Enhance the system of human rights coordination specialists

Enhance the system of human rights coordination specialists that was introduced to provide real relief to victims in the event of human rights infringement. Resolve disputes by taking a balanced, fair look at the interests of the parties concerned during the investigation and disposition of the cases involving infringement upon human rights.

- Offer consideration for foreign women

Provide interpretation services at human rights counseling offices and inform foreign women about the availability of these services to give assistance to foreign victims residing in Japan.

(b) Training personnel involved in interviewing victims, prosecution and providing advice, relief, etc., in relation to incidents of violence against women

- Train expert investigative officers

Train and increase the number of women police officers and expert investigative officers, who can be assigned to handle incidents of violence against women to make it easier for victims to file claims and to ensure human rights are respected during criminal proceedings.

- Offer courses and training for staff involved with incidents of violence against women

Provide daily guidance and supervision to police and prosecution officers directly involved in hearing the victims in incidents of violence against women. Evaluate training curriculum and content in order to ensure due consideration is given to protect the human rights of women.

Produce manuals and other materials on how to handle incidents of violence against women at police departments.

- Offer training for staff involved in consultation for women victims

Enhance training to improve the quality and skills of advisors and counselors who provide counseling to alleviate the psychological shock to women victims of violence, as well as of women's consultation center staff, women's advisors, and women's protection facility staff who consult with victims with a view to preventing prostitution.

- Provide consideration for the human rights of foreign women

Enhance human rights education at the workplace and during training for immigration inspectors and security personnel to respect the fundamental human rights of foreign women who are applicable to the immigration administration. Study a training program for women refugee inspectors who can interview women refugees.

Promote treatment that respects the human rights and special characteristics of foreign women kept at detention centers through mandatory deportation procedures.

Responsible authorities: National Police Agency, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Health and Welfare

(3) Creating an environment for the prevention of violence against women

[Basic Direction of Measures]

Measures to cleanup harmful environments that induce violence against women and exert a negative impact on the healthy development of children and to build safe environments as part of community safety activities should be promoted, and measures that prevent women from becoming victims of crime should be strengthened.

[Concrete Measures]

(a) Publicity, education and elimination of harmful environments toward a society that prohibits violence against women

- Promote measures to eliminate harmful environments that induce violence against women

Crack down on the suppliers who distribute obscene video advertisements or who hang posters providing information on where prostitution is available and promote a campaign to remove such vulgar advertisements of entertainment-related establishments once they have been distributed. Formulate measures to crack down on illicit cases, eliminate harmful environments and promote cooperation among related agencies and organizations to conduct informative and educational activities to deepen awareness among the Japanese people on the protection of the human rights of children, since the flood of information on sex through various media and the proliferation of businesses (e.g, "telephone clubs") that deal in sexual services has brought an increase in sexual exploitation of children.

- Build a better environment through community safety activities

Promote crime prevention patrolling activities and neighborhood support campaigns as part of an effort to keep communities safe to prevent women from falling victim. Strengthen police officer street patrols.

- Conduct publicity and education on the human rights of women

Conduct informative and educational campaigns through initiatives related to the "United Nations Decade for Human Rights Education," Human Rights Week, etc., while making reference to international trends related to the problem to promote understanding of the human rights of women among the general public and to prevent violence against women.

(b) Strengthening crime prevention

- Strengthen crime prevention

Actively provide guidance and advice to women through the holding of lectures/courses on crime prevention, production of crime-prevention videos and manuals, provision of community safety information, encouraging the use of crime buzzers and other such devices, and consultation on women's concerns.

(c) Studies and research on the causes and impact of crime and related prevention measures

- Study and research the causes and impact of crime and related prevention measures

Conduct studies and research on the prevention of crimes related to violence against women given the current conditions where women are susceptible to sexual crimes.

Responsible authorities: National Police Agency, Management and Coordination Agency, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Labor

(4) Strengthening cooperation with concerned organizations toward the elimination of violence against women, and studying comprehensive measures

[Basic Direction of Measures]

Concerned organizations should work together to eliminate violence against women, and comprehensive measures to protect the human rights of women should be considered.

[Concrete Measures]

- Strengthen cooperation among concerned organizations toward the elimination of violence against women and study comprehensive measures

Promote cooperation among concerned organizations to address violence against women in its various forms. Improve the system for comprehensively examining measures ranging from prevention to ex post facto relief with a view to protecting the human rights of women.

Also, promote cooperation for the "Asian Women's Fund," which aims to address contemporary problems concerning the honor and dignity of women based on an awareness of the problem of the so-called comfort women, whose honor and dignity have long since been seriously damaged.

Responsible authorities: Related ministries and agencies

*Sexual harassment: Unwanted verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature including a variety of forms e.g., unnecessary physical contact, sexual coercion, spreading sexual rumors, and displaying nude posters in widely visible places. Sexual harassment particularly at the workplace is defined as "Conduct which places the recipient at a specific disadvantage in the performance of work depending on how the recipient copes with unwanted verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature or conduct which is unwanted verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature and being repeated polluted extremely the working environment of the recipient."