Young women in danger / Tricked and forced to appear in adult videos
The Yomiuri ShimbunSexual violence targeting young women is a serious problem, with victims being forced into appearing in adult videos or falling prey to the so-called “high school girl business.” Things get even worse for victims when these videos are released online, and many suffer in silence. This new series addresses the reality that these women face and support measures available to them. This is the first installment of the series.
“I was tricked by a production company into appearing in an adult video,” said a 26-year-old woman living in the Kanto region. The woman was a college senior in the summer of 2012 when she was approached in Tokyo by a man who claimed to be searching for glamour models for publications.
Her dream at the time was to become a singer and the man told her, “If you appear in a swimsuit, I’ll let you debut in the music world.” The woman was introduced to the president of an entertainment agency, and was persuaded to sign a contract stipulating her affiliation with the agency. But she was not given enough time to read it carefully, nor provided with a copy.
What the woman had been told was a swimsuit shoot turned out to be 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 broke down in tears during the filming of an adult video, forcing the shoot to a halt. She was then threatened 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, she was told the company had gone bankrupt. “I wasn’t even able to contact them.” The video can still be found on the internet.
Cases of young women being bullied into appearing in adult videos are on the rise. They 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. They may be charged heavy penalties for breach of contract if they refuse. In some cases, talent agencies even threaten to tell the women’s parents about the videos.
The nonprofit organization 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 organization, the victims are mainly women from the ages of 18 to 25, who have little life experience. “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.
With free videos flooding the internet, 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 makes the situation even more grave 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 organization 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.
Courage needed to consult
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 being told their work included appearing in adult videos. If victims who are forced into filming after signing a contract get in touch with support organizations, they can 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.