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File:Chikan Sign.jpg

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

In psychiatry, the clinical term frotteurism (no longer called frottage) refers to a specific paraphilia which involves the non-consensual rubbing against another person to achieve sexual arousal. The contact is usually with the hands or the genitals and may involve touching any part of the body including the genital area. The majority of frotteurs are male and the majority of victims are female,[1] although female on male and male on male frotteurs exist. Adult on child frotteurism is a common early stage in child sexual abuse.[2] This non-consensual activity may be done discreetly without being discovered, or in circumstances where the victim cannot respond, typically in a public place such as a crowded train, or at a rock concert. In common speech frotteurism is called groping though this term may sometimes be used for consensual Frottage.

Usually such nonconsensual sexual contact is viewed as criminal offense: a form of sexual assault albeit often classified as a misdemeanor with minor legal penalties. Conviction may result in a sentence including compulsory psychiatric treatment.[3]

A person who practices frotteurism is known as a frotteur.


The term frotteurism derives from the French verb frotter meaning 'to rub'. The term frotteur is the French noun literally meaning 'rubber' or 'one who rubs'.

The psychiatric handbook, the DSM (see below), used to call this sexual disorder by the name frottage until the second edition (DSM II). However, this term is no longer used in the USA to refer to the sexual disorder, which is now called frotteurism, as it is in the current fourth edition (DSM IV). Nevertheless, the term frottage still remains in some law codes and is synonymous with the term frotteurism. "Frottage" is now used for consensual rubbing as part of normal sexual activity.


The professional handbook of the American Psychiatric Association (APA), the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition (DSM IV), lists the following diagnostic criteria for frotteurism.

  • Recurrent, intense, or arousing sexual urges or fantasies, that involve touching and rubbing against a nonconsenting person.
  • The person has acted on these sexual urges or fantasies, or they cause the person significant distress, to a degree they are disruptive to everyday functioning.

DSM IV Classification

According to DSM IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, IV edition), where all psychiatric illnesses are represented as numerals to avoid confusion, frotteurism is classified as 302.89.

Groping in Japan

File:Ladies Only Train.jpg

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

Chikan (痴漢, チカン, or ちかん) is the Japanese term used to refer to frotteurism, or men who commit such acts (the term for women who commit such acts is chijo, 痴女). Crowded trains are the most common target of chikan and chijo, and as part of the effort to combat the problem, some railway companies designate women-only passenger cars during rush hours.[4][5][6] 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 are bicycle parking areas, where people bent over unlocking locks are targets. Chikan often features in Japanese pornography.

One high-profile instance is that of economist and former professor at the graduate school of Waseda University Kazuhide Uekusa who has a string of arrests for sex-related offences, the most recent of which came when he was arrested for molesting a schoolgirl on a train on September 13, 2006.

Concern and controversy

Template:POV-section The issue of groping in Japan does not just affect females but males also. Such is the concern of groping that a film has been made about it.[7] 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. The film aims to highlight the issue of groping and challenge the fairness of Japan's secretive legal system, which has a 99.9% conviction rate in the criminal courts.[8][9] However, an independent legal study has suggested that the reason for the high conviction rate is not a pro-conviction bias but is instead attributable to understaffed and under-financed prosecutors' offices pursuing only the most solid cases.[10] Even so, 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.[11]

See also

  • Masturbation
  • Non-penetrative sex
  • Sexual harassment
  • Saikyō Line
  • Masashi Tashiro


  1. UCSB's SexInfo
  2. Protecting our kids
  3. frottophilia at SEX ED 601 Advanced Topics in Human Sexuality.
  4. The His and Hers Subway
  5. "Japan Tries Women-Only Train Cars to Stop Groping: Tokyo Subway Experiment Attempts to Slow Epidemic of Subway Fondling" An ABC News article.
  6. "Women-Only Cars on Commuter Trains Cause Controversy in Japan"
  7. Tokyo legal drama gets grip on groping (2007). Retrieved on 2007-02-23.
  8. Story Overview. Altamira Pictures, Inc. Retrieved on 2007-11-01.
  9. Kamiya, Setsuko (2007-02-02). 'I Just Didn't Do It' questions court system. Japan Times. Archived from the original on 2012-07-19. Retrieved on 2007-11-01.
  10. Ramseyer, J. Mark; Rasmusen, Eric B. (2001-01). "Why is the Japanese Conviction Rate So High?". The Journal of Legal Studies 30 (1): 53–88. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. doi:10.1086/468111. Retrieved on 2007-11-01. 
  11. Lewis, Leo (2004-11-24). All-women trains are only way to defeat Tokyo bottom pinchers. The Times Online. Retrieved on 2007-11-01.


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