Colabo needs your help!

Last year, Ali, one of our Executive Board members, did some incredible work on a cultural/educational exchange visit to Japan on behalf of FiLiA. She worked with women’s groups supporting women and girls exploited by the sex industry.

While there, she did some work with Colabo, a group that supports runaways and displaced teenage girls and young women in Tokyo to avoid or escape sexual exploitation, including pornography and prostitution. Colabo undertake difficult and often hostile work offering support, resources and a safe place to rest at their centre, outreach work in the red-light district and their innovative Tsubomi Cafe, a large pink bus offering teenage girls a free service including a friendly ear, clothing, food and ongoing support.

Ali saw first-hand the work they did in the café bus, and she walked around the red-light district handing out support packs with the workers. It was a difficult and emotional experience.

Colabo is one of the very few organisations working to support young women and girls escaping abuse, sexual violence and sexual exploitation. Despite being barely tolerated by the government and public alike, it delivers crucial and lifesaving support, especially during these economically difficult times.

Colabo and its incredible founder Nito Yumeno aren’t strangers to unfounded criticism and underhand tactics of harassment and abuse, some of which was already happening while Ali was working with them last year. Unsolicited deliveries and taxis being sent to their address, men intimidating the workers at the café bus, stories appearing online, and the café bus being vandalised and taken out of service. All this to try and stop them from raising the issue of the harms of the sex industry and sexual exploitation.

However, the level of abuse and harassment has escalated to the point where Colabo’s government funding has been withdrawn and the donations of food, clothes and toiletries from the public they so relied on are drying up. This happened because Youtuber and ex-game developer Himasora Akane speculated online that Colabo was misusing its public funds and demanded to see proof of their expenditure. This has been shamefully supported by politicians and high-profile men. A series of events meant that Colabo ultimately lost many of its supporters and funds that keep its service going.

If this service folds, it is not an understatement to say that girls and young women in Japan will be faced with dire consequences. They will be thrown back into sexual exploitation and the sex trade without any way of finding or receiving support.

We cannot allow our sisters in Japan to be intimidated, abused and harassed with impunity. We need to show them that we stand by them. They are desperate for funds to carry on with their life saving work and recover the reputation they took so long in building.

We understand this is incredibly difficult times for everyone, but if you can give anything, however small, please do so. If you are able, then please become a member.

This is a link to their donation page.

FiLiA has received continuation funding for its educational exchange project with Colabo and other organisations in Japan this year, so Ali will be able to return to work alongside them in sisterhood and solidarity.

If any group would like to hear Ali’s presentation on the work she did in Japan then please get in touch with her on [email protected]