More young women in Japan tricked and forced to appear in adult videos

3 October 2016 / 3 weeks 2 days ago

"I was tricked by a production company into appearing in an adult video," said a 26-year-old woman living in the Kanto region.

In 2012, the woman, then a college senior, was approached in Tokyo by a man who claimed to be looking for glamour models for publications.

She wanted to become a singer and the man told her, "If you appear in a swimsuit, I'll let you debut in the music world."

According to The Japan News, the woman was made to sign a contract with the entertainment agency. But she was not given enough time to read it carefully, nor provided with a copy.

It turned out that the swimsuit shoot was a nude one. People in the agency, including the president, told her, "If you don't appear in an adult video, there will be no more work for you," and "If you participate, you'll be able to succeed in show business."

"At the office, I was surrounded by five or six men all trying to persuade me. I was almost being brainwashed," she recalled.

The woman once had a meltdown during the filming of an adult video, stopping the shoot. She was then treatened by staff who told her: "The staff here have families, too. Can you handle that responsibility?"

The woman appeared in a second video, but before she received payment, the company was uncontactable and she was told the company had gone bankrupt. The video can still be found on the internet.

Cases of young women being bullied into appearing in adult videos are increasing. Many women are often lured by the promise of modeling work, and end up being forced to appear in adult videos after signing contracts they do not understand.

These women may be charged heavy penalties for breach of contract if they refuse. Some talent agencies even threaten to tell the women's parents about the videos.

The nonprofit organisation Lighthouse: Center for Human Trafficking Victims, which provides support to victims, had only one reported case in 2013. However, this number rose to 36 in 2014, 62 in 2015, and 74 by the end of August this year.

According to Aiki Segawa, a staff member at the organisation, the victims are mainly naive women from the ages of 18 to 25.

"Forcing someone to perform a sexual act and then releasing the video to the public is a severe violation of human rights," Segawa said. Victims struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder and some have even committed suicide.

Read also: Young women in Japan regularly duped into 'modelling contracts' -- then forced to do porn

With free videos online, some claim that businesses in the adult video industry are forcing women to appear so they can produce more new videos at lower costs.

"Victims are beginning to speak out, but many may still be suffering in silence," said Segawa.

The widespread use of the internet worsens the situation for victims. Support groups have been hearing such reports as "The video shot a few years ago is still online," and "I don't want the video to be discovered by my family or boyfriend."

These groups are urging businesses and website managers in the industry to suspend sales and delete video content, but in reality, once released online, videos are difficult to completely eliminate.

In June, the former president of a Tokyo entertainment talent agency was arrested by the Metropolitan Police Department on suspicion of violating the Temporary Staffing Services Law, after dispatching one of the agency's models to an adult video shoot against her will.

The model was forced to appear in such a video and perform acts including sexual intercourse, and the police judged that this fell under the law's definition of hazardous work.

Some businesses in the industry have tried to evade the application of the law by having women work as contractors or other designations, instead of entering into direct employment contracts. The law banning child pornography limits its scope to people under 18.

"We need legislation stipulating such measures as banning unfair solicitation and suspending sales of these videos," said Kazuko Ito, a lawyer and secretary general of the nongovernmental organisation Human Rights Now.

In June, the Cabinet approved a written answer stating that forced filming of adult videos constitutes violence against women.

"We will ascertain the situation and seek such measures as creating a system that makes it easy for victims to report cases and have consultations," an official of the Cabinet Office's violence prevention office said.

Setsuko Miyamoto, a member of the citizens' group People Against Pornography and Sexual Violence, warned people to "be aware of the grave cases of victimization and not enter into any contract without due consideration."

Contracts provided by companies, including entertainment talent agencies, are generally hard to understand. There are a conspicuous number of cases in which victims were forced to sign contracts without knowing that their work involved appearing in adult videos.

Victims who are forced into filming after signing a contract can contact support organisations and receive assistance in negotiating with the talent agencies.

"While many victims blame themselves, this is not something you should face alone. Have the courage to come forward and talk to us," said Miyamoto.

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