RapeLay: a virtual rape game

A Japanese video game that involved raping women was banned three years after its creation following an international outcry by women’s groups.

The case

In 2006, the Japanese company Illusion Soft released the video game RapeLay. The objective of the game is to repeatedly rape a mother and her two young daughters, and force them to have an abortion if they become pregnant. While the game was only released domestically, it quickly spread worldwide through the internet.

In 2009 the American feminist organisation Equality Now started lobbying for the game to be banned, which was supported by a number of women’s rights groups in several countries including the UK and Australia. Subsequently the game received media coverage, condemning the violence portrayed against women. Only in response to international media attention, three years after the release of the game, did domestic Japanese groups and media start lobbying. Japanese retailers voluntarily took the game off its shelves, and subsequently the Ethics Organisation of Computer Software, an independent Japanese ratings organisation for adult games, banned all computer games with sexual violence.

Author opinion

The game RapeLay is repulsive because women are raped for the sole purpose of deriving entertainment from their dehumanisation. The game should never have been produced or sold for that reason. Should such games be banned by law? In the case of this game an independent monitoring organisation responded to public pressure and banned it. An aware, informed and active civil society may be a better way of controlling the content of entertainment than a law that may be overly restrictive and unresponsive. At the same time, we cannot always rely on civil society to recognise and act upon violations of individuals or groups – history is full of examples where this has failed. I personally find it difficult to say whether in this case a legal ban would be appropriate.

- Anonymous

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Comments (2)

Automated machine translations are provided by Google Translate. They should give you a rough idea of what the contributor has said, but cannot be relied on to give an accurate, nuanced translation. Please read them with this in mind.

  1. The game should not have been published initially. RapeLay is discriminating towards women as it creates the interpretation that woman are a source of sexual entertainment. The game also establishes an attitude that raping women and forcing them to abort is tolerable. In real life, by committing such felony, one could be facing a sentence that could last from 20 years to a lifetime, however in the game, the protagonist committing the criminal offence does not receive any retribution. Having said that, if a game such as this one has been published, the government should take action and distinctly ban it. The manner in which this game is portraying abortion is highly disturbing as it comes across as entertainment to users. By allowing RapeLay to be played, a message to the future generations is being sent saying that violating women rights such as sexual abuse to be respectable.

  2. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    That’s the most absurd and immoral game I have never heard before. It clearly induce people to do such crime. In our age, especially for children really affecting by video games. Therefore, video games which include violence and sexual immoral behaviours should be banned immediately. That’s no funny or entertainment this kind of games. It directly influence society as a harm way.

  3. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Author opinion is understandable if he has same opinion on virtual murder/war games. I personally believe no modern country should ban rape/murder/war games, or whatever most sickening games for you. Because most people can distinguish virtual world from real world. If some people cannot, it is problem of their mental health, not of games.

  4. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    As a grown human being, it is really embarassing that most if not all the entertaining stuffs include some sort of violence. I am not saying that having some level of violence for bigger desire to enjoy such platform is bad but I am appalled by the fact that few game developers out there try to make games that express positive ideas rather than beating, shooting or killing. Furthermore, there are clear cases that these games become models of copycat crimes. I strongly think we should regulate such games like this.

  5. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    Edino prav je, da so igro prepovedali! Kako se lahko sploh kdo spomni, da bi ustvaril igro, katere cilj je posiljevanje žensk?!

  6. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    In this case, the game itself is encouraging the violation of basic human rights and dehumanizing two groups of people: women and children. I believe strongly in free speech and freedom of expression, but this game goes beyond those freedoms. It was designed for a specific population and it’s content promulgates hatred and violence toward a specific group.

  7. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    There is not the kind of appropriate game for anybody, doesn’t matter how old is the people that is playing that .Games are supposed to be fun and make you feel good to be playing , they are not supposed to be like that .

  8. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    A law would definitely have some negative outcomes and mixups, banning games that might be appropriate. This game particularly is gross to me. It should have never been created in the first place; what is stopping a disturbed teenager from trying to explore the reality instead of playing just a virtual representation of such a horrible act?

    • Your comment is awaiting moderation.

      What’s to stop a disturbed teenager from trying to explore the reality of murder instead of playing just a virtual representation of such a horrible act?

  9. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

    I agree with the author’s comment that the game should never have been produced. Rape can never be considered a game because of its violence. I think a legal ban is entirely appopriate.

    • Censorship by the government is prohibited by the Constitution.

      I don’t think a legal ban is better than regulation of the civil committee.

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Free Speech Debate is a research project of the Dahrendorf Programme for the Study of Freedom at St Antony's College in the University of Oxford. www.freespeechdebate.ox.ac.uk

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