23rd Oct: It's time for the second TV Tropes Halloween Avatar Contest, theme: cute monsters! Details and voting here.
Japanese public transit is very crowded — in fact, the operating companies hire employees to help pack trains as full as possible at the height of rush hour (often struggling young or retired sumo wrestlers who need extra cash). Japanese society has very strict sexual mores, as well. A significant social problem is that of creepy strangers on public transit (or in parks) anonymously fondling women in the midst of the crowd and confusion, or otherwise molesting them. These molesters are known by some anime fans as chikan (chikan is actually the act of sexual assault by groping, not the perpetrator), and signs are prominently posted in parks and on transit warning women about them. The (much rarer) females who engage in this behaviour are called chijo. As of 2006, the Japanese subways have addressed this problem by establishing women-only cars on every train. These are reportedly quite popular. However, their failure to put a dent in numbers of cases resulted in the introduction of routine undercover police patrols of subways in 2009, coupled with new awareness campaigns to encourage reporting and prosecution of offenders. This problem, incidentally, is also common in other crowded countries with traditionally very patriarchal cultures: India, Indonesia, Taiwan, Egypt, Brazil, and Mexico have, inspired by Japan, all started designating certain passenger cars in their public transport networks (subways, commuter railways, and even bus lines) as women-only for basically the same reason. Many anime and manga series have at least one episode where a female character encounters a chikan who must be confronted or evaded. The Chikan will tend to be a one-shot character serving a similar role to the Monster of the Week. It's rare for a series to have a recurring chikan, although quite a few series have perverted characters, many of whom are even portrayed sympathetically. Chikan can also be considered a specific genre of pornography, particularly in Japan where the plot of doujins, hentai, films, etc. can be centered around the issue.
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