New Law Passed for “Women in Need Support Act”
Women with difficulties often say that they do not know where to turn for help or what to do when they are at a loss in their lives. Ms. Fuyutsuki (40s, pseudonym), who has been yelled at and repeatedly beaten and kicked by her mother on a daily basis since elementary school, as well as verbally abused by her mother, who told her, “You can’t do anything.
I wanted to get help, but I didn’t know where to go. It is these adults who have that information. They knew there was a child guidance center, but they didn’t know where it was, and there were no cell phones back then. Even if I wanted to call from a pay phone, I didn’t have the money to make the call. We didn’t have the opportunity to be told what to do when we had problems in our lives.”
Some generations put their trust in information from “acquaintances” and influencers they connect with on social networking services (SNS), often turning to the Internet and SNS rather than to the authorities when in need.
For example, Hiroko (50s, pseudonym ), who began living on the street after fleeing violence by her parents and does not even own a cell phone for fear of privacy leaks, relies exclusively on the printed word. Information literacy is limited regardless of age. The new law calls for “support in cooperation with private organizations” (Article 13) and specifies the use of the Internet for notification, but even here, detailed measures are required.
◆Rights Education and Guarantees
Mr. Fuyutsuki, mentioned above, said that around November 2020, when the corona infection began to spread, his daily employment as a registered dispatched worker was depleted early on, so he first He decided to apply for public assistance in order to prioritize stabilizing his livelihood. Nevertheless, for several months, he repeatedly said, “I still hate it.
All deposits and withdrawals are supervised by the government. Since the choices of available medical facilities are limited, he may not be able to continue seeing the hospitals and clinics he had been visiting. It can only be described as inconvenient.
If anything, they threaten us by citing the term “unfair benefits. If it were possible, I would like to discontinue the use of this service right away.
In the case of the Corona disaster, the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare (MHLW) for the first time actively encouraged people to apply for the welfare system on the Internet and in other places, saying, “The welfare system is a right of the people. However, the impact of the long-standing waterfront operation to discourage people from applying under the guise of curbing welfare spending and preventing unfair benefits receipt remains strong.
Even at the stage where they have only a few thousand or a few hundred yen in their pocket, there are no small number of people who continue to refuse to apply because they feel guilty about being told that they are “wasting taxpayers’ money” by using the system, or because they are prejudiced that they have “fallen as far as they can fall.
In the background is the belief that “as long as I have a job, I can get by. For some people, working is “an important activity that also leads to self-esteem,” and the employment support provided by the Women’s Assistance Act is indispensable for women to become self-reliant. However, even here, unless the wage gap and the concentration of non-regular employment among women are corrected, it will not lead to a fundamental solution.
◆Improvement of treatment of female counselors
If women facing difficulties overcome hurdles and are connected to the right places, women’s consultation support workers (renamed from women’s counselors) with specialized knowledge and experience are supposed to help them. However, the reality is that after a certain period of time, these women who provide support to women facing difficulties are now on the receiving end of support. The current system of appointing women’s consultants requires a major review, since most of them are appointed (hired) at the end of the fiscal year.
The treatment of non-regular public service employees has been widely pointed out as a social problem. The fixed-term employment system, in which contracts are terminated at the end of the fiscal year, makes it difficult for counselors to develop and accumulate the expertise, knowledge, and experience necessary to provide support to women. In fact, it has been confirmed that several women with fiscal year appointments who work in unstable and challenging workplaces attended the consultation sessions held at the Corona Disaster.
Emergency Questionnaire for Public Service Irregular Workers, conducted online for one year from April 2019 (valid responses). 1252 responses, conducted by Hamnet) received exactly these comments from the field.
The survey revealed the following: “The people we are supporting could be on the receiving end at any moment. It is very difficult to provide good support in such an unstable situation where tomorrow is your own day.
If both the person providing the counseling and the person receiving it are working in such a way that they cannot foresee their future, it is impossible for women to become self-reliant.
Even if a new law is enacted, it will not be effective unless it has a soul.”
In April, at a meeting of the House of Councilors’ Health, Labor, and Welfare Committee, Councilor Fukushima made this point. The question now is how the government and local governments will implement the new law.
Interview and text： Chie Matsumoto
Chie Matsumoto is a journalist. She mainly covers issues related to social justice, including human rights and labor. She is co-author of "Mass Media Sexual Harassment White Paper" (Bungeishunju) and "Manga de Wakaru Black Company" (Godo Shuppan), and co-translator of "Striking China" (Sairyusha), which will be published in January 2021. Co-translation of "The Power of Change to Move the World: A Message from the Co-Chairman of Black Lives Matter" (Akashi Shoten) will be published in January 2021.