The literal meaning is secondary school student. The term is used to define prostitution of teens aged 13 to 17, a widespread –though illegal- phenomena. These girls prostitution has deep roots in the Japanese culture, where fashion is moving towards an infantile and childish aesthetic model. Lace, crochet, school uniforms, innocent looking underwear with strawberries and puppies on it represents the 80% of Japanese revenues, to the point that one of the busiest shopping streets in Tokyo, Harajuro, is dedicated only to this untimely Lolita style.
The pornography industry is in this regard very broad and accessible to the general public. To the extent permitted by law on pedopornography the market produces a considerable amount of ‘hentai’ (pornographic comics) with preadolescents, if not little girls, as protagonists. Plastic ‘first time’ vaginas amongst the sex toys proposed and underwear and school swimsuits used by girls are buyable. The actual porn, unauthorised to openly show underage sex, gets round the law by showing adolescent nudity or simply avoiding just the intercourse. To try to stem the child abuse –which eluded authorities control- some women-only carriages valid during school hours have been brought .
Young girls attracted by the idea of earning money easily draw men attention on the streets, alluring them with childish cries and innocent faces. Men aged 20-80 pay at the Girls’ bar to talk to little girls and offer them drinks. The same goes for Maid café, where girls call clients ‘master’.
“I earn much more money working as a maid than any other part-time job –tells me Y. which has to attract clients on the streets of the Akihabara area- I have to lure the clients to the bar, be nice to them, show my availability [...] sometimes it can be dangerous, some men try to touch you and offer to go with them to a Love hotel”
Under the illusion of legality, there is an extended prostitution ring and an even more worrying number of child rape and abuse. Knoema world data reported rape rate of 46,7% per 100,000 in Japan, meaning that 1 in 2 women has been assaulted. Numbers raise if we consider the underage only. “A friend of mine was raped at a karaoke (karaoke bars consist of small private rooms in Japan, editor’s note). He told her he just wanted to have an ice cream together” – I. stares at me with a watery look while she tells me a story that –judging from the way her voice falters, sounds as if it was hers.
In one of the most developed countries, the punishment to aggressors is insufficient and the definition of rape itself is limited to vaginal penetration, which keeps the law vague.
Tokyo underground rides futuristically suspended on the rail without wheels while little girls know too well what backwardness means.