Sample letter: Minister of Justice: Japan: Rape simulator games and the normalization of sexual violence

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Dear [name]

I am writing to express my serious concern about the production and sale in Japan of computer games such as RapeLay, which is produced by Illusion Software, which involve rape and sexual violence against women.

Japan has an obligation under Article 5(a) of Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) “to modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women, with a view to achieving the elimination of prejudices and customary and all other practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority of either of the sexes or on stereotyped roles for men and women.” In highlighting that “the oversexualized depiction of women [in the media] strengthens the existing stereotypes of women as sex objects and continues to generate girls’ low self-esteem” the CEDAW Committee during its review of Japan’s compliance with CEDAW in July 2009 urged the government of Japan to “ban the sale of video games or cartoons involving rape and sexual violence against women which normalize and promote sexual violence against women and girls.” Article 14 of the Japanese Constitution also guarantees equality under the law and states that there shall be no “discrimination in political, economic or social relations because of race, creed, sex, social status or family origin.”

I would therefore respectfully urge the Japanese government to comply with its obligations under CEDAW by promoting positive images of women as equal members of society, by establishing measures and policies to eliminate all discrimination against women and particularly by banning the sale of computer games such as RapeLay which normalize and promote sexual violence against women and girls.

Following the international attention these games have received, international human rights organization, Equality Now, was anonymously sent seemingly credible videos of real girls actually being gang raped. The videos were passed on to the Tokyo police department who initially refused to investigate, stating that, based on the officers’ analysis of the shape of the girls’ pubic hair, the girls were over eighteen, therefore the tapes were not considered child pornography. Only after Equality Now impressed upon the police that actual (and not enacted) gang rape videos are in fact sold on the open market in Japan, did they finally agree to re-examine the tapes, but it remains unclear what, if any, action has been taken. I would respectfully urge you, as Minister of Justice, to look into the status of this investigation, to put an end to the making of actual rape videos, and to ensure that all those criminally involved are prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Thank you for your attention.

Yours sincerely,