Equality Now responds to reactions to its Women’s Action on rape simulator games

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Since launching Women’s Action 33.1 calling for the withdrawal of RapeLay, a rape simulator game produced and sold in Japan, and for the Japanese government to effectively address violence and discrimination against women, Equality Now has been inundated with responses. Many have been positive and have come from women and men in Japan and around the world in support of the Action. Some have spoken about their own experiences and the negative impact they feel this form of hentai is having on women and girls, who have become increasingly targeted with sexual harassment.

Sadly, however, Equality Now has also received an unprecedented amount of hate mail, including death and bomb threats. Many of these messages have referred to statistics of rape in Japan that are reportedly far lower than in the U.S. for example. Equality Now does not believe it serves any purpose to excuse crimes in one country by pointing out that there are more in another. In addition, women’s rights activists in Japan inform us that the numbers of reported rapes are not likely to reflect the actual incidents of rape in Japan. It is also difficult for women in Japan to report rape because victims have little faith in the criminal justice system and are worried about the stigma attached to rape. This was also reflected by the United Nations Committee that monitors implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). When examining the report of the Japanese government in 2003, the Committee expressed concern about “the prevalence of violence against women and girls and about women’s apparent reluctance to seek assistance from existing public institutions.” The Committee also noted that “the penalty for rape is relatively lenient.” The fact that there are women-only carriages on Japanese commuter trains due to the high prevalence of groping and sexual harassment faced by women in Japan also highlights the need for the government to actively address violence against women. Banning extreme computer simulator games that promote sexual violence and harassment such as RapeLay would be a step in this direction.

A large portion of the hate mail and threats we received not only underlines the profound misogyny that is prevalent among consumers of such games, many also conflated Equality Now’s campaign to the opposition to sex. Rape and sexual harassment are forms of violence against women and girls and can never be equated with consensual sex. We ask that you continue to write to Illusion Software asking it to fully withdraw RapeLay and all other similar titles and to Amazon which also sells similar games promoting the rape, sexual assault, stalking and molestation of women and girls. Please also write to the Japanese government urging it to comply with its international obligations under CEDAW.