text by Ryoko Kuwahara/Shoko Mimbuta
photo by Yudai Kusano

Self Isolation Issue :「高校時代に虐待から身を守るシェルターに住んでいた過去があるため分かることがあるのですが、平常時ですら児童相談所に連絡しても突っ返されてしまうことが多いです。政府には受け入れ体制を整え被害者支援団体が動きやすいよう配慮するなどの迅速な対応を求めます」Maria / How to Survive – Maria

ーーHow has the spread of coronavirus affected the initiative’s lifestyle and creative activities?

Maria : In my shop, from February onwards I have not seen a lot of customers that are from overseas. People who have just come outside of the city that are relatively new customers have started to ask ‘hey, you don’t have Corona, do you?’ to our workers and I feel that the discrimination towards sexworkers espeically within our nartion is especially vile. From the end of February and in the start of March, when most of our customers started to refrain from going outside, I would only go into work when a repeated customer had made a reservation. In the middle of March we were not told to refrain from providing our services so we were in a situation where we were free to go into work if we wanted to; however, I decided to refrain from going to work because I did not want to be at risk. My revenue has dropped by 60% in February compared to last year and in March that dropped even further to 80%. The goal for me was to have enough savings to change my circumstances so until the end of March, I was preparing for a career change.

 ーーPlease share your thoughts and realizations about the current situation and anything in particular you have become aware of that has changed you or the initiative in any way.

Maria : I thought that the kindness of others is what makes a bright future. However, the problems of discrimination that were slowly started to dimish are still inplace around the world. By the governments for all countries having to show their true colors, we are able to see the problems considering how the Japanese government handles situations and other problems are arising and becoming shown to the surface. I want people to take this opportunity seriously, and exchange information as well as opinions with the people around us to create a world that is livable and comfortable for all.

ーーAs a person in your position or a creator, how are you trying to prepare yourself menatlly and physically for the lockdown?

Maria : I plan on living off of my savings for now.

ーーIn light of your own activities, what kind of ‘creation’ or artistic endeavors are possible indoors?


Maria : I am leaning towards quitting my job in the sex industry. For now, until the recruiting period starts in May for one month, I am trying to learn English. Other than that, writing for an online website aimed at prostitution called photo diary(写メ日記) that shows photos and text for customers; making an effort to take care of themselves so when situations become better, they can be used by customers again.

ーーPlease share any recommendations or ideas on how to use digital platforms to their full extent during the circumstances regarding COVID-19 or any measures that one can take themselves to use this opportunity for better and not for worse.

Maria : I think meditation is a good one. I think when my thoughts start to cluster, it makes me feel positive.

ーーDuring this time is there anything you or the initiative would like to challenge yourself with?

Maria : I would like to The Shikoku Pilgrimage(四国遍路).

ーーDuring this time is there anything you or the initiative would like to challenge yourself with?

Maria : I would like to casually go out to some bars with friends , eat food, go to the cinema and watch films and go to a club and dance until daylight.

ーーDo you agree with the measures taken by the government in your own country? If not, what other measures would you recommend taking?


Maria : I heard one household can now get 30,0000 yen. However, as the conditions that you need to meet in order to obtain this is harsh, I believe it will not reach the people who are facing a real crisis. I would like them to change this to distribute 10,0000 to 15,0000 uniformly. Currently, as schools are shutting down and people are working from home and trying to refrain from going outside, there is an increase in domestic violence and child abuse; sadly even getting worse at this moment.

The UN officer has stated that as a way to combat COVID-19, all countries should take serious measures to stop violence towards women and because of this, in Australia they have invested 10 billion yen to combat domestic violence. I would like the Japanese government to take swift measures to try and prevent the worst from happening as well.

Personally, in high school I was a victim of abuse and therefore have a past of living in shelters and so I know that even when you try to contact people in helplines in relation to child abuse, you will be left on hold. I know because I was like that. In these times, the ones that helped was a non-profit organization group in Shibuya. They issued a meeting with me and protected me for a certain period and found a path for me to be able to contact a helpline so that I would be able to stay at a shelter. They also helped with my mental state as well. Even in those times, there was an abundance of vulnerable women who were left unprotected and to think that during COVID-19, to prevent the spread of the virus helplines have now closed down and situations have become worse, it breaks my heart. I would like the government to take swift measures that prioritise support groups that help victims. Really turn their eyes towards the minorities in our countries to find solutions.

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