A new “anti-groping” stamp was created to help combat sexual harassment on crowded trains and other forms of public transit. It would allow victims to mark their attackers with invisible ink that glows under UV light and potentially serve as a deterrent to would-be gropers. When the product went on sale, it sold out in minutes.
The anti-groping stamp was developed by Shachihata Inc., a stamp-maker, according to a report by CNN. The product is designed to allow those who are subjected to sexual harassment on public transportation to mark the assailant with the ink. It may also serve as a deterrent, as the stamp, while invisible under normal lighting conditions, glows under UV light.
“This is a stamp intended to deter nuisance,” says the stamp’s product page.
When used, the stamp places an image of an open hand on the assailant that is visible only when the right light illuminates it. The ink can also be washed off.
Only a limited number of the stamp was initially produced to serve as a test-run. 500 stamps were available to Japanese consumers at a cost of 2,500 yen (approximately $24).
After going on sale on Tuesday, the stamp sold out in about 30 minutes.
“I was so surprised how quickly they were sold out,” said Fumihiro Mukai, a spokesman for Shachihata.
Shachihata said in May that it would develop the stamp after conversations about gropers – known as “chikan” – erupted all over social media. Social media users were discussing methods for discouraging sexual harassment on crowded trains and public transit systems, a problem women often face when public transit is overwhelmed during rush-hour.
In 2017, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department had 1,750 cases of groping. Approximately 30 percent of those incidents occurred between the hours of 7:00 am and 9:00 am.
Many public transportation stations also have warnings about groping, including signs that proclaim, “Beware of Chikan” and “Chikan is a crime.” Those convicted of fondling can face up to six months in prison as well as a fine of up to 500,000 yen (around $4,500).
While the police were not involved in the stamp’s creation, Mukai hopes that it will still lessen the occurrence of groping.