Tokyo sex workers hold masked protest march to raise awareness on International Women’s Day

Lots of women marched around the world to mark International Women’s Day on March 8th, including at least one group in Tokyo.

But here is another protest by a different kind of feminist: sex workers.

A group of sex workers (male and female) marched while wearing masks and carrying red umbrellas. This was part of Red Umbrella March, which has emerged as a sex worker solidarity event around the world.

The sex workers started in Shibuya and then traveled to Kabukicho by train before finishing their march in Ueno. Along the way they kept their masks on and held signs indicating that they were sex workers for anyone to see. They also gave out information about their plight to passersby.

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Some of the masks were quite funny (gorillas) and nuanced (a hannya demon demon).

Here is a video report about the event. It’s only in Japanese but you should be able to tell what’s going on.

One of the organizers was Yabami-chan, a 23-year-old college student who moonlights as a sex worker. She said that she wanted to show the public how sex workers are all around us and shouldn’t be ignored.

Sex workers have no real rights in Japan because they operate in a gray zone. The law does not allow for penetrative sex but prostitution is condoned for non-penetrative sex, and in reality a lot of prostitutes offer full service. In addition, large parts of the sex industry are Yakuza-controlled to some extent so are effectively off bounds to the law.

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