Abused Girls Convey Reality of Child Prostitution at Tokyo Exhibition

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[An exhibition about child prostitution is being held in Tokyo on August 11-21./ Source: Colabo]

By Um Soo-ah, Tokyo correspondent, AsiaToday - While Japan in general is a very conservative society, the Japanese sex industry is enormous. In fact, blatant sexual harassment is aired on TV shows without making any adjustments, and adult magazines showing naked young girls' pictures are displayed at convenience stores. On the other hand, there is an exhibition that revolts against those grown-ups who exploit young women in the sex industry, gaining much attention.

The exhibition titled, "Dear Adults: We Were Bought," features 100 items, including 60 photos as well as girls' diaries and drawings describing their experiences of sexual abuse and situations that led them to prostitution. It is hosted by Colabo, a Tokyo-based support group for marginalized teen girls, and Tsubomi, an institution that supports girls' independence and self-support.

The diaries and drawings at the exhibition by former child prostitutes, who are dreaming of rehabilitation at Tsubomi ("flower bugs" in Japanese), reveal their abandoned and neglected childhood, lonely life in the street that led them into child prostitution. A 17-year-old former prostitute wrote in her diary, "Those men who wanted to sleep with me were those who paid attention to me. I felt safe then. It was the only way to eat and sleep safely."

The photos show the girls standing or hunkering down on the street, taking off their school uniforms in the motel room. One of the pictures show a girl's arm with self-inflicted cuts and cigarette burns.

In local interviews, Yumeno Nito, founder of Colabo, revealed that she also lived in the streets when she was a high school student. She said that most of the people who reached out their hands were involved in prostitution. She pointed out that people should not just blame troubled young girls, but think about the social environment that led them to sexual abuse.

The exhibition is being held at the Kagurazaka Session House in Tokyo's Shinjuku Ward through August 21.