A shocking investigation has found multiple websites are profiting from selling videos of women being sexually assaulted in public places in East Asia (including Japan and), often whilst travelling on public transport.
The exposure comes at a time when the Japanese parliament are debating a landmark bill to reform the country's sexual assault laws (which is only the second time a revision has been tabled in a century).
It's known that thousands are arrested in Japan each year for Chikan (the term used for public sexual assault), yet there are no national laws against it and offenders are typically only ordered to pay a small fine. Other countries across East Asia, including South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and mainland China (where Chikan is known as Chihan), also have similar problems with criminals profiting from sexual assault videos.
The BBC Eye report, Catching a Pervert: Sexual Assault for Sale, unearthed the identities of three men who regularly sell videos, some of which show men ejaculating on women's clothing and hair on public transport.
One survivor, known as Takako, tells the BBC that she was regularly sexually assault on the way to school. "I couldn’t do anything about it," she says. "I walked to school crying… I was sexually assaulted almost every day."
As part of the investigation, three prominent male figures who sell videos of such assaults are uncovered. All three, who are Chinese, now live in Tokyo, Japan.
One, Tang Zhuoran, a 27-year-old who uses the alias 'Maomi' and who posts sexual assault content using the name 'Uncle Qi', is hailed as a "guru-type figure in the Chikan online community" and runs one of the leading sites for this type of heinous material.
Later, during a meeting with an undercover journalist, Maomi says DingBuZhu (one website where sexual assault videos are sold) generates between 5,000 and 10,000 Chinese Yuan daily, the equivalent of £560 to £1,125. He also admits that the site, which uploads 30 to 100 videos a month, has 10,000 active paying members. The videos are also openly promoted on Twitter.
"People commute every day and they like to see such things," he admits. "They don't like seeing the girl being penetrated, but they like to see these places, to fantasise sexually. I know what they want because I have this fetish myself."
After being confronted by the BBC, Maomi lashes out, tries to hide his face and refuses to comment. He has since left Japan.
Also deeply concerning is Twitter's response when the BBC alerted them to the sexual assault videos circulating on their platform. The BBC claims: "BBC Eye contacted Twitter to make it aware that the three websites have affiliated Twitter accounts where they openly promote sexual abuse videos on its platform. Twitter sent the BBC an excrement emoji."
When Cosmopolitan UK also reached out to Twitter to query their response to sexual assault videos being promoted on their app, the same automated response was received.
Catching a Pervert: Sexual Assault for Sale is available on BBC iPlayer now and will broadcast on BBC Three at 10:50pm tonight
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