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Flower Demo: A Time To Heal

SNA (Tokyo) — Huddled in a pack under the rain in front of Tokyo Station on the July 11 was the Flower Demo. The #MeToo movement has reached Japan and highlighted the unsavory reality of the female harassment which exists in abundance. Beneath the cluster of umbrellas stood the women who shared their stories and sympathy for each other in an attempt to heal and bring about change.

Japan is ranked 110 out of 149 countries overall in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index 2018. Although Japanese women have had the right to vote since 1945, the country ranks 125 out of 149 in terms of the specific category of ‘political empowerment.’

Additionally, in November 2018, Human Rights Watch wrote an open letter to Japan asking to reform laws that deal with harassment in the workplace. There was no concrete policy response.

A survey conducted by “WeToo Japan,” a volunteer organization, concluded that 70% of the women who answered their questionnaire have experienced sexual harassment, while 30% of males said that they had experienced unwanted sexual harassment.

The Flower Demo intends to create a space for healing and solitude as women come together to share their stories and build their resolve. At the July 11 event, women provided each other handkerchiefs and tissues to wipe away their tears, and offered one another encouragement.

The international #MeToo movement has spread to Japan increasing public awareness of the costs and consequences of sexual harassment and sexual assault. It argues for a transformation in traditional practices and cultural behavior which once made sexual harassment seem acceptable. At the very least, the Flower Demo shows women in Japan that they are not alone.

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