Photo/IllutrationProtesters hold signs in Osaka's Kita Ward on May 11 denouncing sex crimes and flowers in a demonstration to protest court rulings that found the accused not guilty of sexual violence. (Mari Endo)

  • Photo/Illustraion

OSAKA--In mounting anger against sexual violence across Japan, about 250 demonstrators on May 11 here denounced recent court rulings that found offenders not guilty of sexual violence against women.

In the rally, dubbed “Flower Demonstration,” participants wore flower-patterned clothing or held fresh flowers to express their support for victims of sexual abuse.

They took turns at the microphone sharing their experiences of falling victim to sexual assault, their outrage and their feelings of helplessness.

“I want to raise a question about the judges’ viewpoint of gender,” said Minori Kitahara, a writer and activist who organized the rally. “Judges let the accused men walk free on the grounds that they mistook it for consensual sex.”

Kitahara was referring to cases in which judges handed down a decision that found the indicted not guilty of rape on grounds that they believed that the victims consented to sex.

The demonstration in Osaka’s Kita Ward followed one held near Tokyo Station on the evening of April 11, which drew more than 400 protesters.

One of the demonstrators in Osaka was a woman in her 40s who lives in Osaka Prefecture, who said it was the first time in her life that she has participated in any kind of protest rally.

She said her daughter confided to her last year that she was forced to have sex with her mother’s partner, who lived with them until seven years ago. The daughter was a junior high school student when the sexual assaults occurred.

The daughter chose to remain silent about the acts because she believed that she had “no place to go even if she refused” his advances, according to her mother. The daughter also believed that telling her what was occurring would only cause her mother trouble.

But the daughter decided to report the sexual abuse after she married and became pregnant.

“I want to show my baby whether Japan is society that brings a criminal to justice,” the mother quoted her daughter as saying.

The mother’s former partner admitted to the acts and stands on trial on charges of violating the Child Welfare Law, not on charges of rape, due to a lack of physical evidence suggesting the abuse occurred, such as a diary the victim kept at the time.

The mother said her daughter could not attend the rally in Osaka because she lived far from the city.

“I cannot bring about change solely on my own, but together we can make a change,” the mother said. “That is why I am here.”

According to the organizer of the Osaka rally, a similar demonstration was also staged in Tokyo and Fukuoka.

The organizer said the 11th of every month will be designated in many parts of Japan for a demonstration protesting sexual violence.