Girls' & Women's Rights
Even today, girls and women around the world continue to be subjected to discrimination, violence and deprivations of freedoms. Simply because of their gender, girls and women can be deprived of their security, independence and even subjected to unjust imprisonment, torture, and execution.
Working together with NGOs from around the world, we take actions to end domestic violence, human trafficking, honor killing, military rape, and any other violence against girls and women.
We also work on the elimination of discriminatory and unjust punishment as well as the execution of women.
JAPAN'S DRAFT REVISIONS TO THE SEX CRIMES PENAL CODE
January 17, 2023
On January 17, 2023, Japan’s Legislative Council further modified its draft plan to revise the existing sex crimes penal code. Most notably, the January 2023 draft revision changed the October 2022 draft revision provision defining the punishable crime of forced sexual intercourse from “making it difficult [for the victim] to refuse” to “making it difficult for the victim to form, express, or fulfill the intention not to consent.”
While Human Rights Now (hereafter referred to as “HRN”) commends the Legislative Council’s willingness to modify the existing sex crimes penal code to more effectively uphold the human rights of survivors of sex crimes in Japan, the January 2023 draft revision provision defining the punishable crime of forced sexual intercourse still fails to meet international rape legislation standards that Japan is obligated to as a State Party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (hereafter referred to as “CEDAW”), and is guaranteed to continue excluding victims of rape who do not actively demonstrate non-consent to unwanted sexual intercourse from accessing the justice they deserve.
So as to prevent gaps in the legal system that allow offenders of sex crimes to evade punishment; to ensure that Japanese rape legislation meets international rape legislation standards as required under CEDAW; and to uphold the human rights of survivors of sex crimes currently unable to access justice, HRN demands that the Legislative Council both clarify and expand the scope of forced sexual intercourse in Japan by defining the crime of rape as all non-consensual sexual intercourse.
In Japan, it has been frequently reported that many young women who were scouted as TV personalities or models were tricked or pressured into performing in adult pornographic videos (AV). In many cases, these young women signed agency contracts without knowing what would happen. The victims realized that they would be in a pornographic video only after being sent to a shooting location, and were told that they would have to pay a penalty if they refused the work.
In 2016, Human Rights Now (HRN) released an investigative report on the damage of forced appearances in adult pornographic videos, which resulted in a strong public reaction. This report involved interviewing the victims and their supporters to determine the facts. It revealed that in many cases, these young women signed to agencies without knowing what would happen and were subsequently threatened. Threats made included things such as “You can’t reject the job, you have signed a contract,” “if you refuse to work, you are responsible to pay for the damages,” or “your parents will find out about your work”. The women felt they had no other choice but to participate in the filming of pornographic movies.
Forced appearances in AV cause serious damage to victims, including physical and psychological harms. Not only are the victims forced to have “sexual intercourse” in the name of contract, but there is not currently any effective legal system other than the cancellation right for minors. Therefore, once the video is released, it continues to spread indefinitely on the internet and causes suffering to women for a significant amount of time. As a result, the victims often suffer from PTSD, or in some cases, commit suicide.
Human Rights Now has been requesting that relevant parties in Japan consider measures to prevent further damages. Since the press conference was held in Tokyo following the release of the investigative report, the issue of forced appearances in pornographic films in Japan has been widely covered by media around the world. Moreover, many victims have courageously come forward to testify or become advocates to demand justice and legal reforms to end sexual violence against girls and women. Despite backlash from the pornographic industry, Human Rights Now has been continuously promoting further awareness on the issue in collaboration with many civil society actors. Human Rights Now-NY has also joined this fight to raise more awareness on the issue.
On 25 July 2018, Human Rights Now released a report on the discriminatory punishment of women.
The report examines practices of discriminatory punishment of women in eight states varied by region and culture, consisting of Afghanistan, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen. Each chapter introduces the legal and social context in the state and its international duties, surveys discriminatory practices in the punishment of women which fall short of international standards, and concludes with recommendations.
The report considers multiple forms of punishment, including official punishment as a matter of law, discriminatory practices of officials, and societal punishment which is either sanctioned or tolerated by the state or where the state has been insufficient in ending the practices. Examined practices include substantive discrimination, including moral crimes such as adultery, seclusion, and dress requirements, honor killings, sorcery-related crimes, and other crimes which disproportionately target women, and procedural discrimination, including by moral police, informal judicial bodies, and discriminatory practices by police and judges.
"Women Human Rights Defenders: Fighting for Freedom & Democracy"
NGO CSW 65 Parallel Event
March 17, 2021
On March 17, 2021, during the first week of the 65th session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW65), Human Rights Now-NY hosted an online event titled "Women Human Rights Defenders in Asia: Fighting for Freedom & Democracy."
The event aimed to highlight the activities of women human rights defenders (WHRDs) in the Asia region and the challenges they face. Due to their work, they are susceptible to discrimination and violence, and often become the target of intimidation and reprisals by authorities. The event featured several prominent WHRDs across Asia who have risked their lives to defend freedom and democracy, the very foundation of human rights and gender equality. Speakers also highlighted the importance of empowering women, girls and youth in order to build a society where full participation in public life is guaranteed to all.