Stop it! Japan anti-groper app becomes smash hit

The app has been downloaded more than 237,000 times, an ‘unusually high figure’ for a public service app, Japanese police said. (AFP)
Updated 21 May 2019

Stop it! Japan anti-groper app becomes smash hit

  • The app has been downloaded more than 237,000 times
  • There were nearly 900 groping and other harassment cases on Tokyo trains and subways reported in 2017

TOKYO: A Tokyo police smartphone app to scare off molesters has become a smash hit in Japan, where women have long run the gauntlet of groping on packed rush-hour trains.
Victims of groping can activate the Digi Police app, which either blasts out a voice shouting “stop it” at top volume, or produces a full-screen SOS message — which victims can show other passengers — reading: “There is a molester. Please help.”
The app has been downloaded more than 237,000 times, an “unusually high figure” for a public service app, said police official Keiko Toyamine.
“Thanks to its popularity, the number is increasing by some 10,000 every month,” Toyamine said.
Victims are often too scared to call out for help, she said. But by using the SOS message mode, “they can notify other passengers about groping while remaining silent.”
There were nearly 900 groping and other harassment cases on Tokyo trains and subways reported in 2017, according to the latest available data from the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department.
“But it’s the tip of the iceberg,” Toyamine said, with victims often hesitant to come forward.
Offenders face up to six months in jail or fines of up to ¥500,000 ($5,500 dollars). The potential jail sentence is increased to 10 years if violence or threats are used.
The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department quietly launched the free Digi Police app three years ago.
It initially aimed to provide information for elderly people, as well as parents and their children about scams or prowlers.
But the function to “repel molesters” was added a few months after the launch.
And an online conversation about the app — caused by a female pop idol being assaulted late last year — resulted in its sudden popularity.
Yui Kimura, a 27-year-old beer shop employee on the nation’s northern island of Hokkaido, says she is always worried about groping whenever she visits the capital. “I tend to be vigilant on Tokyo trains as dodgy men can happen to be in front of me at any time,” Kimura said.
Reina Oishi, a 21-year-old university student in Tokyo, also said: “I want to download the app as I have been groped so many times.”
Experts agree that the app could be a boon for “silent” victims.
“Molesters tend to target those who appear shy and reluctant to lodge a police complaint,” said Akiyoshi Saito, a certified social worker who supported some 800 former molesters during a rehabilitation program.
Groping on trains can occur in any country where trains are frequently crowded, Saito said.
“But the idea that men are superior to women, which is Japan’s traditional bias, may help sustain” sexual harassment on trains in the country, he added.
Awareness of the issue has risen in Japan in recent years, with women exchanging tips on how to avoid the unwanted attention online.
East Japan Railway runs women-only carriages during rush hours and has set up security cameras on some lines notorious for a high rate of groping.


Dubai-built dhow recognized as largest ever by Guinness World Records

Updated 28 October 2020

Dubai-built dhow recognized as largest ever by Guinness World Records

  • The dhow is powered by two 1,850-horsepower engines and will be used to transport cargo from the UAE to the wider region

LONDON: A dhow built in Dubai has been named the world’s largest wooden Arabic dhow in the world by Guinness World Records, it was announced on Wednesday.

The dhow, named Obaid after Emirati shipbuilder Obaid Jumaa bin Majid Al-Falasi who began an apprenticeship aged 9 in the 1940s, measures more than 91 meters long and more than 20 meters wide. The vessel is 11.22 meters high and weighs 2,500 tons.

 

According to the ship’s builder Majid Obaid Al-Falasi, son of the late Obaid, work started on the dhow years ago with no plan or actual blueprints.

“Our forefathers were divers, our ancestors worked in the sea, and my own father perused this craftsmanship for almost all his life. This is a gratitude to my father, and my country, which always aims for the top positions,” he said.

“We tried to get the longest pieces of log available. We are born dhow builders and can build dhows using other materials, but wood keeps its identity.”

The dhow is powered by two 1,850-horsepower engines and will be used to transport cargo from the UAE to Yemen, Somalia, Sudan, Egypt, Kenya, Pakistan and India.

“This achievement is just the inevitable continuation for building dhows in the world,” said Majid, whose family still produces the traditional boats in the Dubai Creek area.

“I see it in the eyes of my son. He is passionate about what I do and what his grandfather used to do. This is what matters, for them to be able to continue the tradition and have it transferred to the next generation.

“At a speed of 14 knots, it will be enough for this dhow to operate and achieve its desired return on investment. Who knows, you might see this dhow docking at different ports all across the world.”