Why some mothers 'sell' their children for dirty deals
Japan is a “lolicon superpower” in which the rampant “Lolita complex,” the adult male fixation on preteen girls, fuels a persistent demand for, to quote from Shukan Asahi’s headline, “children sold by their mothers.”
The magazine (Oct 28) tells the following stories and several others like it, but doesn’t say how many cases they represent. Are they aberrations, or more typical than anyone likes to think?
“My parents divorced when I was in second grade,” says Chisato, now 17. “Mama was in the ‘fashion health’ business. From the time I was little I wanted to be an ‘idol’, a big star. I thought mama was helping me.”
She was about 10 when mama started having her pose for photographs – in a wet gym uniform, or in panties cutting into her flesh. “You’ll be a star,” said mama, “just like [girl pop group] Morning Musume. The photos were apparently sold to a production company mama was in touch with.
“I hated it,” says Chisato, “but after the photo sessions, I’d get taken to a steak restaurant for a hamburger, which I liked, so I stuck it out.”
Time passed, Chisato matured. “Listen,” said mama, “why don’t you do enjo kosai” – a sex-for-cash transaction usually involving high school girls and much older men. “Your breasts are growing, you can’t appeal to lolicon types anymore.”
At that, Chisato says, she left home. She now lives with a friend and has had no contact with her mother in some time. But did she really escape? That sort of betrayal by the very person on whose protection a child most depends “can affect the child for life,” Shukan Asahi hears from Fumihiko Kawasaki, chief researcher at the Yokohama-based Children’s Rainbow Information Research Center.
Miko, 18, never knew her father. “Maybe,” she says, “he was one of Mi-chan’s customers.”
“Mi-chan” is her mother. Her business was “fuzoku” (erotic entertainment). She was 18 when Miko was born. Mi-chan was a shopping addict and ran up debts. When Miko was in junior high school, Mi-chan suggested she cash in on the market for young girls’ underwear. Miko balked. Mi-chan said, “It’s OK, you can sell mine. All you have to do is meet the customer and give it to him. We’ll split the money 50-50.” Customers found on the Internet would be met by Miko in a local park at night. Some came from far away, traveling by shinkansen.
One night, Miko relates, a regular customer said, “Here’s 10,000 yen” – twice the usual price. “Sell me the panties you’re wearing now.” Miko, by now used to this sort of thing, felt no disgust or fear. On the contrary, it pleased her to have a source of income she could conceal from her mother. The man came regularly and her personal fortune grew. But then suddenly he stopped coming. Possibly, Miko speculates, he was arrested. What was she to do for money now? For advice, she went to her mother, who was not at a loss. “Come work at my place,” she said. “We’ll lie about your age.”
She was 16, and was soon earning 200,000 yen a week – 150,000 yen of which, however, goes to Mi-chan. “I want to keep it all,” Miko tells Shukan Asahi, “but Mi-chan is up to her ears in debt; she says, ‘Thank you, I’m sorry,’ and I say, ‘OK, never mind.’”