This post looks at what is told to ALTs and what’s expected of them in regards to sexual harassment at work in Japan. I never felt harassed by or uncomfortable around coworkers (male students, esp. at junior high school, were another story), but I do remember the recommended course of action for most conflicts was to “maintain the wa”. I am disappointed at the wording of the (very brief) sexual harassment section of the JET Program General Information Handbook. Yes, cultural differences do come into play but that’s not a reason to for the handbook to dismiss sexual harassment as a miscommunication and to offer JETs very unclear recourse if they have been harassed.
In my previous post (part 1) I discussed the history of sexual harassment law in Japan, and the struggles women continue to face today. But in truth, this series was inspired by a report in The Japan Times about foreign workers in English-language schools.
The article collects information from women who work in private lessons for the Japanese English-education firm GABA. Teachers reported incidents of clients exposing themselves, making lewd remarks, spending 40 minutes staring at a teacher’s breasts during a lesson, and stalking. One client “leant over and looked me straight in the eyes and said, ‘I want to drink your breast milk.’”
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