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