Women in the “Mother and Child Living Support Program” were Neglected and Lost like Children | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Women in the “Mother and Child Living Support Program” were Neglected and Lost like Children

Nonfiction writer Kota Ishii takes a close look at the reality of the "Young Homeless," young people who have lost their homes!

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Women who have lost their way sometimes gather in downtown areas for the purpose of prostitution.

In Japan, there are loud calls for a gender-free and diverse society. However, the reality is that women in vulnerable positions – women with mental illness or disabilities – live with various disadvantages. They are at significantly higher risk of abuse, domestic violence, and sexual crimes.

When these women become pregnant, they fall into the current situation of difficulty in raising their children. In the series “Young Homeless,” we will look at this reality, following on from [Part 1: Women who leave their children in infant care centers “more than double the risk of domestic violence and sexual assault”].

One of the institutions that serve as a receptacle for women with mental illness or disabilities in Japan when they encounter difficulties in raising their children is a maternal and child living support facility.

In the past, these facilities were called “mother-child dormitories,” and after the war they mainly sheltered mothers and children who had lost their way due to the war. As time has passed, the social background has changed, and in recent years, women who have been forced to leave their homes due to domestic violence or who have inadequate child-rearing skills have moved in with their children in the majority of cases.

In fact, when we focus on maternal and child living support facilities, we find that many women are in socially vulnerable positions. According to the National Council of Maternal and Child Living Support Facilities, one in four 23.5 percent of women have a physical disability, intellectual disability, or mental illness, and 1 in 10 women 10% (one in ten) are foreign nationals. 

They cannot cook, clean up, or change their clothes.

 However, this is a statistic from 15 years ago, and we can assume that the percentage is even higher now. For example, at a mother-child living support facility in the Kansai region that I visited, mothers 30 out of 30 mothers 12 out of 30 mothers Of the 30 mothers I interviewed at a mother-child living support facility in the Kansai region, for example, 12 out of 30 mothers were attending a psychiatry clinic, and 9 of them held a disability certificate. In this light, it could be said that about half of the mothers have mental or other internal problems.

A woman who works at a mother-child living support facility said, “Some of the mothers who come to the facility have disabilities or illnesses.”

A woman who works at a mother-child living support facility said, “There are a great many mothers who come to our facility who have disabilities or illnesses. This indicates that they are at higher risk of sexual violence, domestic violence, economic difficulties, and divorce than healthy women, and are forced to lead difficult lives.”

“However, regardless of their disabilities, what the mothers in the institutions have in common is a lack of common sense about life. Many of them are unable to cook a meal, clean up their rooms, or change their clothes before raising their children. It is not their fault; it is either because they were not allowed to develop such habits or because of their isolated pregnancies.”

The same is true when I visit other mother-child living support facilities.

One of the people I interviewed this time was neglected as a child and grew up eating only sweet bread and taking water showers every day. She didn’t even know how to use a gas stove, boil a bath, or clean a 17 She became pregnant at the age of 17. The other man disappeared before she could register. Thus, she had no idea how to live, let alone raise a child, even after giving birth to her baby.

The same thing applies to women with disabilities. One woman with intellectual disabilities grew up in an institution as a child and lived in a group home as an adult. Because of this, the staff took care of all her personal needs, and she had no opportunity to learn on her own.

Many mothers are left with debts and nowhere to go after being violated by men.

In her late teens, she fell in love with a bad man and started dating him. When she became pregnant, she moved in with him, but she knew little about life, having relied on her support person for everything up to that point. So, right after giving birth, she was abandoned by the man and was taken into the facility when she was on the street.

The role of the mother-child living support facility includes teaching these women the lifestyle before raising their children. Mother and child support workers are stationed there to teach them how to live during their stay.

One of the women said, “They teach the mothers things.”

One of the women said, “When I teach the mothers things, I come across things that surprises me. When we teach them how to run the washing machine, they don’t know how to hang the washed clothes to dry. Or when you teach them how to use a gas stove, they don’t know how to turn off the flame. They have never done drying and putting out clothes in their lives, so they can’t think straight.

Since everything is like this, it is difficult to teach them everything in the one or two years they are with us, but we try to teach them the bare minimum.

Garbage man won’t come to my house to pick it up.

One of the women we interviewed did not know how to dispose of garbage. Therefore, the staff bought garbage bags, taught her how to put them together, and wrote the garbage collection days on her calendar.

A month later, when the staff entered her residence to check on her, they found a pile of garbage bags on the floor. When asked why she did not throw them out on the collection day, she replied: “The garbage doesn’t go to my house (in front of the house).”

The garbage man won’t come to my house (inside) to pick it up.

Even though she was taught how to put out the trash, she did not know that she had to go outside to the collection point to drop it off.

While there are many such unbelievable stories when we interviewed the women at the facility, it could be argued that they have been deprived of so much more.

As one woman told us, “I am a socially disadvantaged woman.”

I believe that vulnerable women have the right to give birth. However, now that they no longer have the family and community ties they once had, there is no supportive environment for them to raise their children. This makes it impossible to provide support until something goes wrong. Of course, once something happens, it is too late. That is why I believe that society as a whole needs to address this issue.

What must be considered, as we have repeatedly stated in this paper, is that the more vulnerable a person is, the greater the risk of falling into such a situation.

Late last year, news broke that a group home for the disabled in Hokkaido was proposing sterilization procedures for its residents if they wished to marry or live with someone of the opposite sex.

I disagree with what the group home did. However, simply opposing it does not make these problems any better. If we are against it, we must have a support system in place that is commensurate with that opposition.

Especially at a time when attention is being focused on measures to combat the declining birthrate, I think it is necessary to discuss and think about these issues head-on.

Call for Entries

The series “Young Homeless” is looking for people in their 10s to 40s who have no permanent place to live. We are looking for the actual experiences of people who have lost their home, either now or in the past, such as people living in cars, Internet cafe refugees, migrant sex workers, day laborers living in dormitories, hotel dwellers, store dwellers, and people living in support facilities, as well as the voices of those who are providing support for these people. Anonymous or other conditions are acceptable, so please contact the author.

Kota Ishii (Author)

Twitter @kotaism

Email postmaster@kotaism.com

Women who have lost their way sometimes gather downtown for the purpose of prostitution.
Women who have lost their way sometimes gather downtown for the purpose of prostitution (photo is an image and has been processed)
  • Interview, text, and photography Kota Ishii

    Born in Tokyo in 1977. Nonfiction writer. He has reported and written about culture, history, and medicine in Japan and abroad. His books include "Absolute Poverty," "The Body," "The House of 'Demons'," "43 Killing Intent," "Let's Talk about Real Poverty," "Social Map of Disparity and Division," and "Reporto: Who Kills Japanese Language Ability?

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