In Advance of the Salem Grope Trials

SHACHIHATA-gropestamp-featured

For a little more than a year in 1692 and 1693, a small area in Massachusetts around the town of Salem provided the world with a classic example of mass hysteria, moral panic, or witch hunting… literally.  Two preteen girls in the family of the local minister began having fits, as if they were being assaulted via voodoo dolls, and the search for the perpetrators began.

Once that ball gets rolling, an accusation is a powerful weapon in an environment of unease and division.  Fingers are easy to point, and doing so comes with no consequence.  People with scores to settle have an opportunity, and even people who would never consciously set the mob upon somebody they don’t like may find themselves convinced that they’re doing it for the right reasons.

With our historical experience in this area, it’s shocking that this BBC article doesn’t even mention the possibility of abuse with a new device:

An anti-groping device aimed at tackling sexual harassment on public transport has been launched in Japan.

It allows victims to mark their assailants with an invisible ink stamp in the shape of a hand.

People can then use the device’s black light to identify those who have been marked.

Apparently, groping is a real problem along Japanese rail lines.  Still, the only concern expressed in the article is by Katie Russell, a spokeswoman for Rape Crisis England and Wales, who is concerned that the device unfairly puts the responsibility on victims to take action against their assailants.

Put aside the silly, childish notion that people should not take responsibility for their own self protection and that it is somehow wrong to provide them with tools for that purpose.  What’s striking is that it doesn’t seem to have occurred to anybody involved with the article that the practice of marking other people as perps could be abused.

It would be one thing for a man on the station platform to deny a false accusation.  It would be another for him to insist that somebody had unjustly pegged him with the groper stamp.

This may or may not be a sufficient problem to justify resistance to this new device, but the fact that it isn’t front and center in consideration of the thing indicates that abuse is likely.

Featured image: Shachihata promotion image.



  • Rhett Hardwick

    It has been a long time since I spent a lot of time on a subway. But, when I did, I am sure I may have participated in “accidental” groping. Space can get tight. On a challenge from my GF at the time, I took a ride wearing my tightest jeans. It works both ways, it isn’t just a “male” problem.

  • Joe Smith

    Justin – let the market sort it out. If a non-offending male is worried, demand single sex trains or cars (they exist for females, why not males only too?) for example. It seems to me that since the product sold out almost immediately, the market is signalling there is still a major problem. Sometimes markets create more markets to find equilibrium.

    Although I think a simple solution for an entrepreneur is to sell cheap disposable gloves that block the ink transmission..

    • Rhett Hardwick

      I wonder if it is changing times, or “Me, too”. When I took the subway regularly, so did a number of attractive women I knew; including my former wife. I cannot recall a “groping” complaint. It has very recently been pointed out to me that a great deal of Japanese Internet porn involves sex on subways. I wonder.

    • Justin Katz

      I’m not sure how much you’re joking. I’m not suggesting the product should be banned. Part of a market’s development, however, is the feedback loop of public input, and my question is why this feedback loop is ignoring an obvious problem.

      • Rhett Hardwick

        While I cannot deny your concerns, I am wondering if it is Japanese “me, too”. I just went to xnxx.com and searched “subway sex” the mini videos offered are predominately Japanese/Asian. The Salem Trials are now ascribed to a hallucinatory fungus that grows on rye bread, I wonder if there is something in sushi

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