Frotteurism and Chikan

Frotteurism refers to a paraphilic interest in rubbing, usually one’s pelvis or erect penis, against a non-consenting person for sexual gratification. It may involve touching any part of the body including the genital area. A person who practices frotteurism is known as a frotteur.

A sign on a station platform in Osaka, Japan, ...

A public transport ‘Ladies Only’ sign used in Japan

In Japan, street groping is called chikan and a man who commits such acts is also called chikan, while a woman is called chijo.

Crowded trains are a favourite location for groping and a 2001 survey conducted in two Tokyo high schools revealed that more than 70% of students had been groped while travelling on them. As part of the effort to combat the problem, some railway companies designate women-only passenger cars during rush hours.

A lot of Japanese women who are harassed in this way are often too embarrassed to tell anyone, let alone report it.

While the term is not defined in the Japanese legal system, vernacular usage of the word describes acts that violate several laws. Although crowded trains are the most frequent targets, another common setting is bicycle parking areas, where people who bend over while unlocking their locks are targets. Also, Chikan is often featured in Japanese pornography.

On a related note, at the time of writing Japanese Smartphones are programmed in such a way that the shutter-sound made by the camera is not mutable, even when the phone is on mute mode. In other words, the sound the phone makes when it takes a photograph cannot be muted. This is because a lot of Japanese women who wear skirts are likely to fall victim to upskirt photography by men in a crowded public location. This line of photography is a paraphilia in voyeurism where the harasser will try to photograph a women’s panties while holding the camera under her skirt – ideally without her noticing.

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