The Asahi Shinbun posted an article about a survey done by the Aichi Prefectural Police regarding enjo kosai, or the practice of school girls exchanging companionship and sexual favors for money and gifts. According to the article, the survey focused on 100 girls between the ages of 13-19 who had been caught participating in deai-kei online dating sites.
Nearly 70%, or 67 girls, said that they would never want to create a family environment like their parents have compared to 18% of 100 girls in the same age range who were randomly surveyed. 46% said they were ignored by their parents (compared to nine in the random survey) and 36 girls said they were abused by their parents (compared to seven in the random survey).
The report went on to say that 77 out of 100 girls surveyed randomly said they were normally home by 9pm, while only 34 of those involved in enjo kosai answered similarly. Thirty-eight of those who had been caught said they often stay out past 11pm.
While the survey results aren’t anything startling or new–anyone working in child welfare or juvenile delinquency could tell you that an unhappy home environment and little parental involvement often results in youth committing crimes–this was still the first time a survey has been done focusing on girls who have been caught in enjo kosai.
“Many teenagers doing enko (enjo kosai) feel alone,” says Polaris Project representative Shihoko Fujiwara. “Kids may turn to prostitution because of a lack of social protection, in the cases of poverty or abuse, but a lot of them may lack self esteem because they’re never really treated as valuable by their parents.”
As an interesting aside, throughout both the survey and the article, girls who had been caught doing compensated dating are referred to as higai shonen (被害少年 – damaged youth). Some girls are technically in violation of deai-kei site laws, but they’re also victims of child welfare laws being broken.
Says Fujiwara, “For a lot of kids enko is a way to make money, but at the same time it’s self-destructive behavior.”
Some girls get wrapped up in en-deri–an abbreviation of enjo kosai delivery health–a service that provides call girls who are underage. According to the Sankei Shinbun, en-deri is a booming business that is easy to set up because entrepreneurs need only a single computer to get started, and employees, known as a “cast,” are easy to come by.
Says the article, in the case of one en-deri business, the girls were taking home 50% of their earnings. One 16-year-old girl reportedly made over ¥350,000 in 15 days–a feat for any high school student. Hearing a story like that, many likely wonder about the motivation of girls who turn to prostitution.
In the end, Fujiwara says there is no one factor to blame but that society as a whole needs to try harder to support children and young adults. “Right now society pressures just parents and schools to raise kids,” she points out. “But what if parents are abusive? There needs to be more social resources around kids within the community.”