“The disabled too have sexual desire. Well, of course they do, it goes without saying, and yet most care facilities ignore the fact.”
One that doesn’t is a Niigata-based organization called White Hands. “It’s very businesslike,” writes investigative journalist Kaori Kawai in Shukan Post (Aug 20-27). “A young woman slips on a pair of disposable gloves. She removes the man’s trousers and underwear and covers him with a bath towel. She dips a cloth in warm water and rubs him down. She slips a condom on him. The woman does not remove her clothes, engages in no superfluous sexual contact, uses no erotic DVDs or books. The entire procedure lasts 5 to 10 minutes on average.”
White Hands was established in 2008. As of June 30, it had 155 clients scattered all over the country. Some 80% of them are men suffering from cerebral palsy – either singles who due to paralysis cannot masturbate, or married and unable, for the same reason, to engage in sex without assistance.
Kawai introduces us to one regular client. Akio Sudo, 54, lives in Joetsu, Niigata Prefecture. The youngest of eight children, he never went to school; his father went bear-hunting with the disabled child strapped to his back. He was 20 when his father died. He went to live in an institution, vowing to get out of it someday and live independently. It took him 20 years to develop the skills and confidence, but he did it.
Being in a wheelchair hardly seemed to confine him. He made frequent train trips on his own from Joetsu to Tokyo for the sexual services there. This was before the age of barrier-free convenience. If his wheelchair got stuck or upended, observing how people reacted became part of the fun. With an attitude like that, you can go far.
But his disease progressed, his paralysis worsened. So he turned to the Internet and discovered White Hands. The charge: 3,500 yen for 15 minutes, 5,500 yen for 30 minutes, 9,500 yen for an hour – plus transportation.
“Sex, like eating, sleeping or excreting, is a basic bodily function,” says Shingo Sakatsume, White Hands’ 29-year-old director and founder. He works out of an office in his mother’s house. A graduate of Tokyo University’s literature faculty, he had little love for academics and less for the business world. As a student he had done his share of enjoying paid sexual services.
He always wondered, he tells Kawai, why both clients and service providers seemed to feel guilty about what they were doing. He wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life, but thought it might have something to do with “making the ero-entertainment industry more wholesome.” He seems to have taken a big step in that direction.