Thank you very much for attending our documentary screening and panel discussion!
We would like to thank our panelists, Amy Woo Lee, Nobuko Otsuki and Vickie Skorji for sharing their extensive experience, insights and practical tips, expertly moderated by Alexis Rosenberg.
Thank you so much to the TMI Associates team for their support and generosity in providing their beautiful office space.
We encourage you to contact Vickie, Jane and Najwa at TELL to host your own documentary film screenings or participate in any way in their outreach and awareness programmes. http://telljp.com/help/
The BBC documentary "Love you to death" was not an easy film to watch, but highlighted the real life situations in which the women were in as their lives were tragically cut short.
Some takeaways were:
• "Violence" or "domestic violence" can have different meanings and thresholds of proof for securing restraining orders under family law, immigration law and criminal law in Japan and in the US/State of California. The legal structure in Japan is that there is an Act on the Prevention of Spousal Violence and the Protection of Victims and the Law on Proscribing Stalking Behavior and Assisting Victims. The former provides protections for married couples, de facto married couples and divorced couples, as well as those who are living together. It does not cover those in a dating relationship.
• Statistics of violence claims in Japan and the US were introduced, and the general understanding was that the cases that get reported did not portray the true picture. There are many barriers to leaving an abusive relationship which are intertwined with threats of deportation to those living in a country where they do not have legal status, custody rights over children and economic barriers. In the US however, it is possible to petition for legal status without the assistance of the abusive partner. In Japan, the family registry system means that the non-Japanese parent has less rights in practice. For foreign couples living in Japan, it is often the case that the parent in possession of the children's passports has practical custody.
• A recent example was introduced where a non-Japanese spouse was seeking assistance from an abusive Japanese spouse. The lawyer in the audience who had been contacted for help was able to refer the individual to TELL, which is one of the only first ports of call in these situations. The relationship was remedied and the non-Japanese spouse has returned home.
• There are 200 plus government-funded shelters in Japan for women and children leaving abusive relationships, but without fluency in the Japanese language, access to help can be difficult to obtain. TELL introduced resources which are able to assist in the English language and also pointed to safety plans which the surviver can prepare.
• We were provided with practical advice as to how to talk to survivors: not approach them as victims and tell them what they should do; provide options for them and not dictate specific action; the survivors have low self-esteem and are shattered by their experience, so reassuring them that the violence that they were subjected to is not due to their own fault, etc.
• The panelists' wish list consisted of: Please connect with TELL in our firms and companies and provide financial support to them to continue with their great work; and keep on talking about critical issues such as domestic violence, rape and sexual assault.
Again, thank you very much for your participation. We sincerely look forward to seeing you again soon at our next Women in Law Japan event.
Women in Law Japan Executive Committee