The first “Flower Demonstration” against sexual violence is held in Nagoya on June 11. (Jun Ueda)

A monthly demonstration protesting recent acquittals in rape trials has spread from Tokyo to across the nation, bringing together sexual assault victims and supporters seeking an overhaul of the Japanese Criminal Law.

Protesters rallied in Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka, Sapporo, Sendai, Nagoya, Kobe, Shimonoseki in Yamaguchi Prefecture and Kagoshima on June 11.

The rallies are dubbed “Flower Demonstrations” because participants wear floral-patterned clothes or hold flowers to condemn the court rulings and express support to victims.

Advocacy groups decided to hold the demonstrations on the 11th of each month to seek legal revisions.

Under the Criminal Law, sexual offenders cannot be punished only for committing non-consensual sex. Prosecutors often have to prove that violence or intimidation was involved to win convictions.

A court in Aichi Prefecture in March acquitted a man of “quasi-forced sexual intercourse” by ruling that although he raped his daughter, she was not in a state in which resistance was impossible.

That ruling and others led to the first protest staged in Tokyo on April 11, followed by Osaka and Fukuoka in addition to the capital in May.

About 300 men and women showed up for the rally in front of Tokyo Station on June 11.

Through a microphone, Wakana Goto, 27, gave her account of being sexually harassed by her boss and date-raped by a boyfriend.

“I was instilled with a sense of terror and hatred after those experiences,” she said. “I would like the government to bolster support programs for victims and rehabilitation programs for offenders.”

A man in his 20s joined his girlfriend at the Tokyo gathering. He said his girlfriend told him that she had been sexually assaulted before.

“I came here to listen to what women had to say to protect my girlfriend,” he said.

(This article was written by Nobuyuki Takiguchi and Hajime Ueno.)