the double punishment of Shiori Ito

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AFP, published Sunday, 19 May 2019 at 08:46

"My family, my country, my job": Shiori Ito lost everything because she dared to denounce her rapist and challenge a Japanese sclerotic society. In a book that now comes out in French, he recounts his struggle, synonymous with social suicide in a country that prefers to silence the sexual assault.

At the beginning of April 2015, Shiori Ito, a 26-year-old Japanese journalist, believes in her luck when a Japanese TV station executive invites her to the restaurant to talk about a "job offer".

Remember to drink sake and then it is the black hole, until it wakes up in a hotel room, with its attacker lying on it. The symptoms show the "rape drug", which would have been put into his glass, but no medical evidence could be established, this type of product disappeared too quickly in the blood.

"You passed the test," said his abuser after finishing with her, before asking him, "At least leave me your underwear as a souvenir," he said in an interview with AFP.

"There are many similar stories," a Tokyo police inspector told him, urging him not to complain, otherwise his journalistic career would be "ruined". His attacker, close to power, has a long arm, he repeats.

Finally, an investigation will be launched, but the warrant for the arrest of the suspect canceled last minute by the police hierarchy, explains the young woman, to whom justice will no longer give credit: the case was closed and the rapist , who denies, never worried.

Shiori Ito is denied the status of "victim". She is even considered guilty because she is the victim of the scandal. Until his father, who blames him for not being "more angry" against his attacker, he said.

Rejected, pariah in her own country, without any chance of finding a job, she moved to London where she is now a documentary journalist.

"What happened after the rape ended up destroying me," he sums up.

– A social suicide –

But Shiori Ito offers battle. "They told me it was impossible, but in the end it was possible."

It is this fight that he tells in his book, already published in Japanese, Korean or Swedish, and today in French with the title "The Black Box" (editions Picquier).

"The prosecutor in charge of the case explained to me that the event had happened in a closed room, a black box," he wrote. "I spent all my energy to illuminate a light on this black box, but the more I tried to open this box, the more nested black boxes I discovered in the Japanese investigation and judicial system."

In Japan, even more than elsewhere, the legal system requires that "the will to say no to suspicion has been clearly expressed and heard". A Swedish study showed that 70% of rape victims are paralyzed, unable to resist the aggressor. And it's even more true when it's the use of drugs.

Faced with the lack of justice, "the only way to get results is to make them public": Shiori Ito holds a press conference on May 29, 2017, then publishes a book-testimony in October of that year.

"I was inundated with insults and threats, but what struck me most are these emails of very polite women who told me how much I should be ashamed to have revealed everything. Even if it were true, it was not the way we should have acted" .

"In Japanese culture, suffering in silence is considered noble," says Shiori Ito, who explains that, according to a survey conducted by the Japanese government in 2017, only 2.8% of rape victims said they had spoken to the police.

Choose to break the silence has signed the social suicide of Shiori Ito. "I lost my country, I lost my job, I lost my family," he lists, the thin thread of voice broken by emotion. "But someone had to do it."

– "The right to live" –

His revelations and the concomitant #MeToo movement paved the way for change: "At least now, we're talking about it." Before, it was almost impossible to pronounce the word "+ rape +" in Japan, he said.

Thus, in April 2018, a case of sexual harassment broke out involving a senior official of the Japanese Ministry of Finance who had to resign. Unusually in the country, the case caused a sensation in the media.

But the victims are still ostracized: "We always have this stereotype that we can't be a victim if we smile, if we don't cry." During my press conference, I was told to wear black. no, there is no dress required for the victims ".

It is to show that Shiori Ito has agreed to shoot an advertising clip for the Calvin Klein brand: she appears in a one-piece costume, in a very careful photo, which has not prevented "horrible reactions" "." How can she do it if she was raped? " , Has been criticized.

"I had to show them that I had the right to live," he says.

This summer, Shiori Ito will find her attacker in Japan because, if the criminal case is closed, a trial opens up to the civilian. "I don't know how my body will react, I will survive but it will never go away," he said between sobs. "This night haunts my dreams".

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