Discrimination in Japan against Mothers

Japan working mother abortion

This is an Abe-omination. Japanese bosses urging pregnant women to have abortions.

I just read this article from The Economist, 5-11 September 2015 issue. One of the most developed Asian countries still has a third world mindset towards women (South Korea being another majorly backward country in terms of female empowerment).

This is not a myth. Once I had the privilege to lunch with 2 Japanese ladies who shared there are 3 career paths for working women in Japan.

The first is to give up all hope of having children and fight it out with the men (less than 10% of women successfully do so to climb up past the glass ceiling).

The second is to accept whatever role beneath the glass ceiling (typically an admin job) serving male bosses, even this is a struggle for those who have kids – maids are unheard of in Japan, with their strict rules on foreign labour, aliens and all that.

The last is to embark on a career as a stay-at-home-mum, making bento sets that are too cute to eat and being the main caregiver to the children, saving on expensive childcare and dealing with office discrimination every day.

Japanese mothers face so many hurdles to earn a living, such as getting their pregnancy ‘approved’, tolerating harassment and verbal criticism from colleagues who cover for them on maternity leave, avoiding being fired, and finding an authorised childcare school so they can continue working.

In Singapore, mothers face all these issues to a certain degree, but I have yet to hear a trend of mothers being asked to abort. Childcare places are being ramped up to reduce waiting time.

However there is still some issues on workplace harassment, because there are still people who don’t understand why mothers can’t be as perfect as they should be.

I hope more working mothers will be more vocal, to share what it’s like working and mothering at the same time, for more people to understand what they go through, instead of stereotyping working mothers as lazy, chao geng, leeches and unproductive.

But till more working women speak up, the tone will still be set by everyone else.

 

This article first appeared on Jules of Singapore.

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Adrianna Tan

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