The pernicious problem of groping, or chikan 痴漢 in Japanese, is alarmingly severe in Japanese trains. Although police statistics show that the incidences of chikan are in steady decline, it is still an all too common occurrence.

Various solutions to the problem have been suggested, from education reforms, putting cameras in trains, and separating men and women in separate carriages (a solution which has already been implemented on some lines). Companies have also come forward with useful gadgets to help potential chikan victims, such as smartphone apps or, as we reported before, anti-groping stamps which can affix a mark on a perpetrator's hand.

When it comes to advice relating to chikan, much of what is often circulated online either addresses potential victims and how they can prevent or effectively stop their molester or if it does address bystanders, it's usually advice on approaching the victim and asking them if they're OK. This may work, but it can also backfire since the victim may be too embarrassed to admit what happened and wants to avoid the attention.

Hell ojisan (@uncle_from_hell), who describes himself on his Twitter profile as in his mid-thirties and married with children, had the following tip on how to approach perpetrators:

This is for all of you who see a chikan in a train and want to caution them but hesitate on what to say.

Based on my personal experience, the best thing to say to avoid trouble is:

"The woman in front of you seems to be annoyed, so why don't you step back a bit?"
I just stopped one right now.

Even if you ask a woman: "Are you alright?" she'll reply "I'm alright."

Please share widely.

His suggestion immediately went viral, garnering over 103,000 likes and 6,500 retweets at time of writing.

In follow-up tweets, Hell ojisan clarified his position, explaining that many chikan are not obvious in their behavior, and try to take advantage of their victims in ways which are difficult for others to detect. Therefore, he says this line is "particularly effective for cases of physical contact so subtle it is difficult to tell whether it is chikan or not."

The important point, he further added, was to caution the suspected molester, letting them know: "What you're doing may not be chikan but if you get too close you will become a nuisance."

Reactions to this tweet included:

  • I can really use this!
  • It's a great solution which can protect women while also avoiding false accusation.
  • There are perpetrators who try to pass it off as coincidental (contact), so this is the best way to repel them.
  • Thank you for giving me this advice!

It is very difficult to catch perverts who try to engage in this kind of "gray zone" behavior. However, in some cases, finding the right words may be the key to stopping even this kind of chikan.

By - Ben K.