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“At that moment, I understood what it means to feel like I’d rather die,” wrote a young Japanese woman, recalling the trauma she suffered as a pre-teen, over having sex with a man to earn funds to repay what she thought was a debt.
The testimonial was part of an exhibit, including photos and artwork, in the Japanese capital that sheds light on an underground industry known as Japanese men’s fascination with high school girls fuels demand for such services, and exhibit organiser Yumeno Nito said many people have the wrong idea about the girls themselves.
Japan demands UN envoy to retract statement on schoolgirl sex The United Nations, in a separate report, highlighted the problem, the full scope of which it said was hard to grasp because of legal ambiguities.
Although firm data is hard to come by, the phenomenon also worries Japanese police.
Graphic images in manga and anime are largely exempt.
“I feel the situation is improving,” Nito said, referring to growing awareness of the problem.
The mere use of the word “compensated” implies the girls seek fun and money, rather than being victims of sexual trafficking, said Nito, who heads a non-profit organisation, Colabo, that provides support to such young women.
“Sophisticated and organised prostitution networks target vulnerable Japanese women and girls in public areas such as subways, popular youth hang-outs, schools, and online; some of these women and girls become trafficking victims,” it said.
Many Chinese couples do not share the Western expectation that two people dating will maintain their own separate social lives and friend circles.