|The story below is originally published on Mainichi Daily News by Mainichi Shinbun (http://mdn.mainichi.jp).|
|They admitted inventing its kinky features, or rather deliberately mistranslating them from the original gossip magazine.|
|In fact, this is far from the general Japanese' behavior or sense of worth.|
Unreported tragedy of the Kobe earthquake - rape
Shukan Bunshun 8/17-24 By Takeshi Ito
About a month after the Great Hanshin Earthquake, relief workers and journalists working in Kobe heard a disturbing rumor that a young woman had been raped in a shelter for the displaced.
This unconfirmed story was followed by another chilling whisper, saying that 15 women had been sexually molested, one after another, in Kobe in the aftermath of the quake.
Freelance writer Kiyomi Nakai set out to find out exactly what was going on in Kobe.
Nakai reports her findings in Shukan Bunshun.
According to Nakai, the rumor that rape has become a frequent occurence in Kobe is not without foundation.
She tells Shukan Bunshun that a local telephone counseling service, set up one month after the quake to offer psychological assistance to women in devastated areas, received 37 calls from women who had been raped or had escaped rape attempts.
At a closed roundtable discussion of another group held in April, volunteer workers, teachers and displaced local residents reported cases of sexual violence they had witnessed or knew of, including rape and illegal acts with minors.
Nakai informs Shukan Bunshun that some of these women are believed to have been raped by men who took advantage of the dark nights and many half-destroyed buildings left in the affected areas.
The reporter, however, is unable to substantiate her information because of the total lack of cases reported to and investigated by local police.
According to Shukan Bunshun, local police are not taking any actions against rape in the absence of a complaint.
Despite the official stance that rape does not exist as long as it is not reported, police have secretly instructed volunteer groups against sending women workers alone to shelters and temporary housing and against turning off the lights in their sleeping areas at night, reports Nakai.
There are even cases where police allegedly advised women who had been molested not report their experiences, reveals the Shukan Bunshun contributor.
Nakai points out that this is possibly a consequence of the media-generated image of calm and dignified Kobe residents.
She feels that local governments and residents are so eager to maintain the good image that they are pressuring victimized women to keep quiet.
Nakai also has a strong suspicion that the rapists are not just local men.
Men are visiting quake-devastated communities with the express intention of molesting women, the reporter suggests.
Since police remain unhelpful, women in Kobe are taking precautionary measures, notes Shukan Bunshun.
Says one woman, "Kobe is no longer a city where women can walk down the street alone and feel safe.
I hear stories of sexual violence all the time.
I've made it a habit to ask someone in the neighborhood to come with me whenever I go shopping."
Another advises; "If you are planning to visit affected areas, don't even think of wearing a skirt.
I hear that Sannomiya has become particularly dangerous.
They say many women visited the area and where either raped or molested."