Watch enough anime, and you’re sure to see the stereotypical scene: a schoolgirl or office lady is stopped on the street, grabbed on a train, or otherwise receives unwanted attention. Sadly, it’s not a thing of fiction. Street harassment is very real. But the police department of Aichi Prefecture is hoping to take steps to help cut down on it (in Japan, at least).
The force has printed up 500 posters featuring Tsuuhokei Shojo, a cute anime girl in glasses and a beret. The new mascot is calling for citizens to be active when they see someone receiving unwanted attention in public. According to the poster, there are three steps to take:
1. Step in and talk to the person being harassed. This keeps them from feeling alone and makes it easier for them to speak up. Also, a second party on the side of the victim often makes harassers give up.
2. Tell a nearby guard or officer. If stepping in doesn’t help, find someone nearby in uniform and ask for assistance.
3. Call 110. 110 is Japan’s emergency line — but they don’t mean literally! This is shorthand for calling for help if nothing else works.
A policewoman dressed as Tsuuhokei Shojo (which translates to “report girl”) demonstrated these steps for an audience when the campaign first went live. Now, the mascot’s bright pink poster with advice can be seen all around Aichi Prefecture.
The campaign has gotten… well… about the response you might expect. While many are happy that these posters are out, some are calling anyone who’d follow the advice a “snitch” (occasionally with threats). Others claim that this would allow women to falsely accuse men of harassment and get them in trouble with the police for no reason.
However, officers have gone on record as saying that reports of molestation or street harassment are fully investigated. Approximately 88% of women harassed do not go on to report it, often because of fear of retaliation. Aichi Prefecture’s police department hopes these encouragements for witnesses to step forward will start making a difference.
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