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A sign outside of a bicycle parking lot in Chiba, Japan, warns "Beware of groping".

When used in a sexual context, groping or fondling is touching another person in an unwelcome sexual way. The term generally has a negative connotation in many societies, and the activity may be considered sexual assault. Toucherism, considered a paraphilia, describes the practice of a person touching another non-consenting person with their hands, typically in crowds, for their own sexual pleasure. Touching a consenting person's body during sexual activity, massage, or medical examination is not usually considered groping, though the term is sometimes used to include clumsy, selfish, or inappropriate sexual touching. Areas of the body most frequently groped include the buttocks, breasts, vulva and thighs on a woman, and the penis, testicles and buttocks on a man. Gropers might use their hands, but pressing any part of their body against another person can be considered groping.

The incidence of groping varies around the world, and some countries have acquired a reputation for it. In some countries, it is common for a woman's buttocks to be pinched or slapped in a crowded area. In many countries, non-consensual sexual touching of any part of another person's body is considered to be sexual assault and is illegal, but in almost all countries it is considered unacceptable behaviour. Italy used to have a reputation for men pinching women's bottoms, and the term groping could perhaps be applied, but it was not a common term at that time (mid-20th century, for example). Japan has a reputation for females being groped on trains and buses to the extent that the authorities have implemented anti-groping campaigns, which has received considerable media attention and been the subject of serious study in recent years. In parts of South Asia, including India,[1] Nepal[2] and Bangladesh,[3] public sexual harassment or molestation (often known as "street harassment") of women by men is widely referred to as Eve teasing.



A sign on a station platform in Osaka, Japan, showing the boarding point for a ladies only car

In Japan, one gender groping another gender in public is called chikan (痴漢); and the term also describes the act itself. Crowded trains are a favorite location for groping and a 2001 survey conducted in two Tokyo high schools revealed that more than 2/3rds of female students had been groped while traveling on them.[4] As part of the effort to combat the problem, some railway companies designate women-only passenger cars during rush hours.[5][6][7] While the term is not defined in the Japanese legal system, vernacular usage of the word describes acts that violate several laws. Although crowded trains are the most frequent targets, another common setting is bicycle parking areas, where people bending over unlocking locks are targets. Chikan is often featured in Japanese pornography.

This issue affects men in a different way. Since Japan has a very high conviction rate (99% by some sources), innocent men may have difficulty proving their innocence in court.[8] The film I Just Didn't Do It by Japanese film director Masayuki Suo, based on a true story, focuses on a male office worker acquitted of groping after a five-year legal battle.[9] The criminal courts have traditionally been lenient in cases of groping and have only recently made efforts to combat the social problem with tougher sentences.[10][11]

United StatesEdit

Groping is illegal when there is no consent. The charge can vary from state to state but generally is considered to be sexual battery, sexual groping, or unlawful touching. In some jurisdictions, groping is considered "Criminal Sexual Conduct", in the second to fourth degree, if there is no penetration.

  • Florida: U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officer Paulo Morales, 47, of Miami, pleaded guilty to sexually groping three women in his custody. Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division stated, “The Justice Department will continue to investigate and prosecute criminal civil rights violations committed by law enforcement officials”, and U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida Wifredo A. Ferrer stated, “My office and the Department of Justice are fully committed to protecting the civil rights of our citizens from all types of abuses.”[12]
  • Louisiana: Title 14, criminal law RS 14:43.1;[13] §43.1. Sexual battery: A. Sexual battery is the intentional touching of the anus or genitals of the victim by the offender using any instrumentality or any part of the body of the offender, or the touching of the anus or genitals of the offender by the victim using any instrumentality or any part of the body of the victim, when any of the following occur: (1) The offender acts without the consent of the victim.
  • Michigan: THE MICHIGAN PENAL CODE (EXCERPT), Act 328 of 1931, 750.520e Criminal sexual conduct in the fourth degree; misdemeanor. Groping is considered Criminal Sexual Conduct specifically; (v) When the actor achieves the sexual contact through concealment or by the element of surprise.[14]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ The Express Tribune, July 8, 2013: Eve teasing: The power game, by Tehniya S Afridi.
  2. ^ Smriti Lakhey, "Eve Teasing" Archived 2010-06-20 at the Wayback Machine, Wave # 55, July 2000.
  3. ^ "Eve-teasers beat dead youth in Dhaka" Archived 2014-10-12 at the Wayback Machine, Daily Star, 11 October 2014.
  4. ^ Buerk, Roland (14 September 2009). "Tokyo police act on train gropers". BBC. BBC. BBC. Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  5. ^ The His and Hers Subway
  6. ^ "Japan Tries Women Only Train Cars to Stop Groping: Tokyo Subway Experiment Attempts to Slow Epidemic of Subway Fondling" An ABC News article.
  7. ^ "Women Only Cars on Commuter Trains Cause Controversy in Japan"
  8. ^ "Tokyo legal drama gets grip on groping". The Standard. Associated Press. 20 February 2007. Archived from the original on 31 July 2009. Retrieved 10 October 2015.
  9. ^ Kamiya, Setsuko (2007-02-02). "'I Just Didn't Do It' questions the Japanese court system". The Japan Times. Retrieved 2007-11-01.
  10. ^ Lewis, Leo (2004-11-24). "All women trains are only way to defeat Tokyo bottom pinchers". The Times Online. Retrieved 2007-11-01.
  11. ^ Fukada, Takahiro, "In anonymous packed train lurk gropers", The Japan Times, August 18, 2009, p. 3.
  12. ^ Department of Justice- Retrieved 2012-08-08
  13. ^ Justia (US Law)- Retrieved 2012-08-08
  14. ^ Michigan law- Retrieved 2012-08-08