Sunday, June 29, 2014

Tokyo - take it or leave it / Ch.10 How safe is safety

How safe is safety):

Despite all the mythical 'safety' in all the right places in day hours there's clearly another side to it too. Something you may never encounter if you so choose but it'll still be there like a dark side of the Moon.
Still, at this point you can walk most streets and don't look back to check on people and surroundings in the dark of evenings. 
Unless of course, you happen to be a young woman living alone. The fact does attract weirdos that are also large in numbers and safely harbored by the city's vast size allowing them to operate as they please without much chance to be caught in a wrongdoing act or even if to be seriously prosecuted. Everyone here is familiar with the word 'chikan' or 'pervert' in translation that are famous for molesting people (of both genders as urban legends go), mainly on crowded transport or dark alleys. The category is wide in terms of age speck, anything from 16 to 80, and also in the social standing, not seldom including higher ranking public officials. Cases and statistics that we know of via media. Imagine what we don't know, as most cases are hardly reported. According to the local data, no less than 60% of female population here has experience of being molested at some point in their life. 
Some dismiss this as 'minor' crime as opposed to the violence. I won't be so sure to feel optimistic about this either. Violent crimes against women exist but go largely unreported except for the high profile cases widely featured in the press. 
Being a woman here presents definite challenges. And speaking of 'safety' we might remember English teacher who was murdered by her student turned stalker within 3 months of her arrival in Tokyo.
Stalking is another vice that plugs this city in rather disturbingly huge numbers that according to NPA (National police academy) doubled in the last couple of years prompting certain changes in legal procedures.

Safety is always relative. Even things you don't see on the surface or avoid still lurk somewhere in dark shadows  and need to be acknowledged. Big city always has its secrets that it's not in a hurry to reveal and that are hidden deep below. 

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