The Japanese government has asked schools not to penalize students for being late to class if they were filing a police report regarding a sexual assault they experienced during their commute to school.
The request is part of the government’s anti-groping campaign aimed to eliminate “chikan” (public molestation) and protect students on Tokyo trains during the country’s school and college entrance exam season.
In the past few years, Japanese social media users noted that the annual two-day unified university entrance exam is viewed by perpetrators as “opportune days for groping” as victims, who are typically female, are less likely to report incidents due to concerns of being late to tests.
A notice of the government’s request was reportedly forwarded to educational boards nationwide as schools start a new term this month, according to Vice World News.
The country’s education ministry explained that students worried about their academic record are discouraged to report instances of sexual assault on public transportation in fear of being punished for missing school or being late.
In addition, the ministry requested schools hold make-up classes if necessary so that students may catch up on any missed lessons.
Masami, an 18-year-old student who was groped in Tokyo last year, told Vice that she went home after reporting the incident and missed school.
Although she explained the incident to her teacher the next day, her school still placed a black mark on her attendance record.
“She told me that it’d still be counted as an absence because I’d missed a whole day of classes,” Masami said. “It just seemed really unfair and didn’t make sense. It’s not like I could’ve avoided getting groped.”
Groping on public transport is a crime punishable by up to six months in prison or fines of up to 500,000 yen (approximately $3,700).