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A New Gadget Designed To Tackle Sexual Harassment in Japan Sells Out In 30 Minutes

A new gadget designed to tackle sexual harassment on public transport has sold out just half an hour after going on sale in Japan.

A Japanese company has produced a portable UV stamp that allows victims of harassment to leave an identifying mark on anyone who tries to assail them. 

The “anti-groping” stamps allow those who experience harassment to imprint their attackers with invisible ink and also provide a deterrent to would-be attackers.

Police are then able to reveal the stamp – which was created by stamp-maker Shachihata – with UV light.

The stamp comes in a little yellow case (signalling warning, the maker says) and has a reel cord so it can be attached to a bag or pocket.

Shachihata said it would develop the stamp in May after conversations erupted on social media sites about how to deter groping – which is known as chikan – on crowded trains.

"This is a stamp intended to deter nuisance," reads a translated product page from Shachihata, a maker of pre-inked rubber stamps and stamp pads.

A limited run of 500 stamps, which cost 2,500 yen (€21), sold out within 30 minutes of going on sale on Tuesday.

The ink can be washed off and the product is mainly meant as a deterrent, company spokesman Hirofumi Mukai told the Japan Times.

Though the company doesn't mention groping specifically, uninvited touches from chikan (gropers) are a widely known problem for women on packed rush-hour trains in Japan. 

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department recorded 1,750 cases of groping or molestation in 2017 – with more than 50 per cent of sexual harassment cases taking place on trains and a further 20 per cent in train stations. 

Only 3 per cent of sexual assault victims in Japan tell police, often due to fears of being blamed themselves and publicly shamed – with many choosing not to tell anyone at all.

A report last year by the government’s gender equality bureau showed nearly 60 per cent of female victims of rape kept it to themselves.

The new product, aimed at protecting vulnerable people in potential danger situations, joins the realms of other #MeToo-adjacent paraphernalia aimed at discouraging groping and calling attention to the general issue of harassment. 

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