A Tribute to Junko Furuta: a Protest to Put an End to Gendered Violence

This article has been published anonymously.

Content Warning: This piece includes graphic descriptions of sexual and physical violence

[Featured Image: A young woman with a solemn look on her face cast in black and white. This is a screen capture from the music video quoted below.]

Seconds of frightened wouldn’t be forgotten 

Happiness was fainted by soreness that painted

Cries you sang as your prayers 

With the shuts to carved your shatters

Junko Furuta, Danilla, 2016

A hundred silent witnesses. Forty-four days of hell. Four boys. One girl’s life that was destroyed forever. On 30 March, Junko Furuta, a seventeen-year-old student in Tokyo was found dead inside an industrial drum filled with concrete. Junko had been abducted and tortured for 44 days before she finally succumbed to her injuries. The chilling details of her captivity and her insufferably unjust ending left the world of the 80s in shock. Yet this violence does not belong in the past. You do not have to look at the statistics to know that women

It is unnecessary to mention that Junko was an ordinary girl, but truth be told, Junko was an ordinary girl. She was a good a student who had earned her “good girl” reputation by staying out of trouble and refusing to blindly follow the behaviour of the rest of her peers. At the same time Junko, according to various sources, was quite popular in school and no one seemed to be in conflict with her. One could say that Junko’s only wrongdoing was her unfortunateness.  Hiroshi Miyano, a boy in Junko’s school, who had connections with the Yakuza (powerful crime syndicate) seemed to have a crush on Junko and when she rejected him, Miyano began his unjustifiable vengeance. On the 25th of November, Miyano was guarding the streets of Misato with his friend Nobuharu, with the purpose to capture girls and rape them. When they spotted Junko, Miyano ordered his friend to kick the bicycle of Junko and to then flee the scene. Miyano pretended that he had an interest to protect Junko and offered her a ride home. After having conceived the girl, Miyano revealed his connections to Yakuza and then raped Junko. Miyano and his other three friends ended up permanently abducting Junko keeping her as a hostage in Miyano’s house where she was raped over 400 times and tortured in unimaginable ways. They four boys beat her, abused her and even starved her. They hung her from the ceiling and used her as a punching bag, they burned her private parts, pierced her body and set her on fire two times. It was the second time that Junko was set on fire when she died. The list of the tortures goes on. Junko’s captivity and torture was known by approximately 100 people but all of them were scared to report the crime to the police. The one time the police was notified that a girl was held captive and they decided to visit the house, the boys told the police that no one was held captive and that was enough of a proof for the police to leave the property without having conducting any investigation. The police could have saved Junko’s life that day. Junko had been forced by her abductors to call her parents and lie to them that she had run away, therefore no one ever searched for her. The discovery of her body was random. The boys were being investigated for other crimes and they confessed to their crime having misunderstood the reason that they were being interrogated. Junko’s murderers never received appropriate punishment and they were trialled as juveniles.

 What happened to Junko is unforgivable and unforgettable. Junko was an innocent girl who was left unprotected by both her government and society. Her pain became pleasure and her life unimportant. It is almost impossible to look at Junko’s case and not wonder how different her life would be if she was not a girl. How easily could her torture be prevented if she was not viewed as a pleasure toy? How much she could have lived if the men and boys around her were able to take no as an answer? Junko was not violated, tortured and murdered because she was Junko.  She was raped and killed because she was a girl. Junko’s case is unfortunately only one of the many cases of violence against women. If we want to honour Junko’s memory and, more importantly, make sure that no one else has to go through same or similar tribulations, we have to think what we are doing for women and girls around the world. Are we treating them with respect? Are we allowing them to exercise their human rights? Are girls and boys equal?

It is truly shocking for someone to read about how Junko’s body was used as a punching bag, but isn’t that what girls and women are taught anyways? Aren’t they taught that they have to tolerate male violence? Aren’t they taught to submit? Approximately 15 million adolescent girls have experienced forced sex at some point in their lives, while 35% of all women experience either physical or sexual abuse from an intimate partner3. The reason women are being assaulted, abused, raped and even murdered is because they are taught to be objects of violence. Junko’s murder case is an alarming example of gendered violence and what we can learn from her suffering is how necessary gender equality is. 

We need to teach and be taught that gender equality is a matter of security and that girls, like Junko, will continue to be victims of gendered violence if we do not change the way we treat women and girls. Junko’s case amongst many others may shock us but we have to remember that the reason Junko was tortured is the same reason that women are being abused in their marriage, gain less money than men for the same job, catcalled on the street etc. 

To honour Junko’s memory we have to remember what happened to her and what is happening to women like her all over the world and make sure that our attitude towards women and gender does not contribute to such events.

Bibliography 

  1. “Chilling Details About The Murder of Junko Furuta AKA The Concrete-Encased High School Girl Murder”.  Amanda Sedlak-Hevener. Unspeakable Times. https://www.ranker.com/list/junko-furuta-high-school-girl-murder/amandasedlakhevener 
  2. “The 44-Day Horror Story Of Junko Furuta”(2018). Katie Serena. Allthatsintersting. https://allthatsinteresting.com/junko-furuta
  3. “Facts and figures: Ending violence against women”. UN Women. https://www.unwomen.org/en/what-we-do/ending-violence-against-women/facts-and-figures

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