Neon signs for sex industry venues are seen among the bars and clubs in Tokyo’s Kabuki-cho red light district. Economic hardship is pushing many middle-aged women toward the nation’s sex industry, despite the stigma and physical risk.
push … toward … 推向
stigma 名词 羞耻
Sex trade a shaky safety net for Japan’s working-poor women
working poor 穷忙族
shaky adj 不可靠的
For the past six years, 47-year-old single mother Kasumi Endo has lived a double life.
过去的6年里，47岁的单身母亲 Kasumi Endo 过着双重生活。
On weekdays, she works all day as a temp-staff office worker to raise her teenage daughter. But with wages hardly sufficient to keep the household afloat, Endo (not her real name) takes a surreptitious trip to Tokyo’s downtown Ikebukuro district on weekends to earn extra money.
surreptitious：done, made, or acquired by stealth
As she climbs the stairs to exit JR Ikebukuro Station, she gradually switches her normal self off and wills herself to accept that she is now someone else: a professional working in Japan’s fuzoku sex industry.
当她走出 JR Ikebukuro 地铁站，她逐渐进入另外一个角色：日本风俗行业的专业人士。
“When I first decided to join the industry, I did so with great reluctance. I didn’t know whether it was the right thing to sell my identity as a woman. I even felt guilty for my daughter when I imagined a stranger touching the sacred part of my body where she was born,” said Endo, who agreed to be interviewed on condition of anonymity because she keeps her side business a secret from those around her, including her 19-year-old daughter.
Endo belongs to the seemingly burgeoning cohort of Japan’s impoverished middle-aged women gravitating toward the sex industry, despite its widespread life-threatening risks.
cohort n 一群人
impoverished adj 贫困的
middle-aged women 中年妇女
gravitating v 吸引
Today, the taboo community provides women like her with the semblance of a social safety net, superseding the existing public assistance that experts criticize as too fragile and contingent on an old, traditional family model that no longer works.
semblance n 假象
superseding v 取代
fragile adj 脆弱的
contingent adj dependent on or conditioned by something else
At the same time, calls are growing for a rethink of the industry’s pariah status. Poverty experts say the entrenched tendency to label the sex industry an unconditional evil will only leave those who work in it marginalized and stymie access to the public support they need.
the industry’s pariah status.行业的贱民的地位
the entrenched tendency 根深蒂固的倾向
marginalize v 边缘化
stymie v 阻碍
Despite Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s “womenomics” target of having women occupy 30 percent of leadership positions by 2020, the majority of the female workforce is mired in low-paying, unstable nonregular employment. Many are forced to give up full-time positions after childbirth amid a chronic dearth of day care centers as well as Japan’s long-standing “men at work, women at home” mentality, which dissuades husbands from taking paternity leave.
occupy vt 使从事；任职。
majority n 大多数
mired in 深陷
a chronic dearth 长期缺乏
chronic adj 长期的
dearth n 缺乏
dissuade v 阻止
paternity leave 陪产假
Of the 23.51 million employed females nationwide, 13.32 million are engaged in nonregular work, including part-time and temporary jobs, according to a 2014 survey by the internal affairs ministry.
The National Tax Agency, meanwhile, found in its 2014 study that the annual income of female nonregular workers averaged ￥1.47 million — well below the ￥2 million benchmark seen as the poverty line — while men in the same status earned ￥2.2 million annually.
Things grow even more dire among single mothers like Endo, who, despite working nonstop, can earn barely enough to support their families.
在 Endo 这样的单身母亲中，事情变得更加严重，尽管他们不间断地工作，却仅仅够养家糊口。
dire adj 悲惨的
A 2011 study of single-parent households by the welfare ministry revealed that 47.4 percent of working moms eked out livings as part-timers, earning an average of ￥1.25 million per year, and 4.7 percent held jobs as temporary workers. Among men, only 8.0 percent of working dads were part-timers, and earned an average annual wage of ￥1.75 million.
the welfare ministry 福利部
eked out livings 勉强维持生计
For her part, Endo, who had worked part-time customer service jobs from her mid-30s to 40s that earned her just over ￥1 million yen a year, became the Japanese equivalent of a call girl/ in the so-called deriheru (“delivery health”) industry/ in 2010/ after her husband fell several hundred million yen into debt.
equivalent adj equal in value,amount,meaning,importance,etc.
She divorced him three years later over another debt problem and saw her monthly income plummet to about ￥120,000 on a take-home basis, comprising her earnings as a part-time worker and call girl.
plummet to :速降
take-home :(of salary or wages) remaining after all deductions including taxes
While she recently switched to being a temporary worker with full-time hours, she wound up jobless at the end of June when her contract expired. With her rent late this month, Endo said she was popping out of her deriheru shift when possible to desperately take in one job interview after another.
Despite its deep stigma and shady legal status, Japan’s fuzoku industry, which primarily refers to the “soapland” brothels, “fashion health” massage parlors, deriheru businesses and love hotels, is flourishing. The market reached an estimated ￥3.5 trillion in fiscal 2014, according to Yano Research Institute.
massage parlors 按摩店
deriheru businesses 保健行业
is flourishing 繁荣的
in fiscal 2014 ：在2014财年
With vaginal intercourse prohibited by the Prostitution Prevention Law, most business operators seek to circumvent it by ostensibly offering a gamut of services that stop short of outright sex, from French kissing to oral and anal sex. In reality, however, vaginal sex, euphemistically called honban (real play), is something of an open secret in places such as soaplands.
由于《防止卖淫法》禁止阴道性交，大多数商业经营者试图通过表面上提供一系列服务，以避免直接性行为，从法式接吻到口交和肛交。在现实中，然而，阴道性交，委婉地称为 honban（真干），在被称为 soaplands的地方，是一个公开的秘密。
vaginal intercourse 阴道性交
a gamut of services 一系列服务
stop short of 停止
oral and anal sex 口交和肛交
euphemistically called honban (real play) 委婉地
Fuzoku sometimes proves to be the only viable career option for financially challenged women, particularly single mothers, due to its considerably loose working style.
viable career option 形容词 切实可行的
“Fuzoku is the most convenient part-time job you can possibly think of,” Shizuka Yamaguchi, a 45-year-old nurse from Kanagawa Prefecture who moonlights as a deriheru call girl in Ikebukuro, said. Yamaguchi (not her real name) said she delved into the industry about a year ago to help offset a plunge in household income after her husband lost his career.
Shizuka Yamaguchi 说：“风俗业是你能想到的最方便的兼职工作”。Shizuka Yamaguchi 是一名来自神奈川州45岁的护士，在池袋从事保健行业。她一年前在丈夫失业后进入该行业赚钱补贴家用。
Kanagawa Prefecture 神奈川州
delved into the industry 进入这个行业
offset 抵消 plunge下降
“As a nurse, you’d have to complete the pre-assigned shift in order to earn, say, ￥10,000 a day. But this won’t be an issue in this industry — you can just call your boss and show up whenever you feel like it, day or night, using whatever free time you’ve got to yourself.”
“作为一名护士，你必须完成预先安排的班次，才能赚取每天1万日元。 但这不会成为色情行业的问题 – 只要打电话给你的老板，无论白天还是黑夜，都可以随时随地使用自己的空闲时间。“
Add to this flexibility the instant payment aspect, and cash-strapped women like Shoko Hayama, 48, find the business a life-saver the likes of which she believes is nonexistent anywhere else.
As of July, Hayama (not her real name), who works at the same parlor as Yamaguchi, said she and her husband owed about ￥300,000 in back rent and were on the verge of being evicted.
were on the verge of being evicted.
verge n 边缘
evict v 驱逐
Her husband lost his job as a truck driver after a traffic accident in January, which led the pair to resort to a black-market lender for what eventually snowballed into ￥2 million in debt under the exorbitant interest rates.
Hayama, who requested her real name not be published because she keeps her plight hidden from her husband, said she is considering filing for personal bankruptcy.
personal bankruptcy 个人破产
“Even if I take up a job as a temporary worker, it isn’t until a month later that I can get paid. I used to have my name registered with a temp agency, but in many cases, daily payment is only possible like four times a month,” she said, noting her job as a call girl rewards her with half of the ￥6,000 in cash she gets from each 70-minute session with a customer. The other half goes to her employer.
noting 是 note 的现在分词
These women’s tales of divorce, spousal joblessness and debilitating penury resonate with many middle-aged sex workers drawn into the business, industry insiders and poverty experts say.
debilitate v 使衰弱
penury n 贫困
resonate v 共鸣
drawn into 吸引
They point out a mixture of factors for this, from the demise of Japan’s traditional family model, heavily reliant on male breadwinners, to the fundamental weakness of the nation’s social security system.
heavily reliant on male breadwinners
reliant adj 依赖的
Akiko Suzuki, a clinical psychologist and chairwoman of the anti-poverty group Inclusion Net Kanagawa, said Japanese women have traditionally found themselves at the mercy of the social security and family benefits tied to the employment of their husbands, including health insurance, pensions, housing subsidies and allowances for dependents.
inclusion n 包含，包括。
at the mercy of 任由…摆布
But this model is almost obsolete in today’s society, Suzuki said, with divorces on the rise over the past two decades and many corporations inclined to cut back on family benefits in an economy that’s been stagnant too long.
“Once those women are left without their husbands, there is little housing or welfare assistance they can turn to,” said Suzuki, who has been involved in a free consultation project catering to sex workers.
Welfare benefits in Japan are notoriously hard to come by thanks to the convoluted bureaucracy, and renting an apartment is often a laborious task if one lacks stable income.
The government meanwhile remains doggedly reluctant to invest in public education, spending an abysmally low 3.5 percent of GDP in 2012, the least of 32 of the 34 OECD countries for which comparable data were available. This, Suzuki said, has prodded many single mothers to sacrifice their health for work to ensure their children can get access to higher education.
Some fuzoku employers, Suzuki said, go to great lengths to cater to the needs of these women, including offering them places to stay and helping to arrange spots in day care centers for their children.
“So, in a way, they offer women the kind of support that society has failed to provide,” Suzuki said, while emphasizing that the sex industry alone can’t substitute as a safety net, given that some of the women make less than ￥100,000 a month.
Even if the sex industry provides women with something akin to a safety net, however, risks permeate its community, including rape, stalking, revenge porn and sexually transmitted diseases.
akin adj 相似的
sexually transmitted diseases 性传播疾病
Okaasan debuted in Ikebukuro in 2009 as a pioneering establishment focused on middle-aged women to tap a market based on the inherent male desire for motherly affection.
debut debuted 首次亮相
a pioneering establishment 首创的机构
the inherent male desire 男性固有的对母爱的渴望
The chain, which has since branched out into the Kansai region, exclusively hires women in their 40s or older and counts many poverty-stricken women, including single mothers, among its 500 call girls.
the chain 连锁店
branched out 扩展
Kansai region 关西地区
Okaasan proclaims on its website that it will strive to become one of the “most exemplary” fuzoku chains in Japan, upholding a stringent no-sex policy that makes it the antithesis of some of its law-breaking rivals.
most exemplary 最具代表性的
antithesis n 对照
As a precaution against stalkers and other sex offenders, Saito, 48, strictly bans the women from carrying ID when meeting clients and from giving out their contact information. He also stores data on every single customer in a database to better grasp his clientele.
grasp v 了解
To protect their health, Saito ensures his employees undergo a monthly screening for STDs and discloses their examination history on its website. Any woman found to have broken the no-sex rule to earn extra money is fired immediately, Saito said.
But despite his best efforts, some women fall prey to rapists nonetheless, returning to the office with blood dripping down their thighs, he said.
“It’s always possible the women have to deal with some kinds of criminals. We can’t eliminate the risk, although we can certainly reduce it,” he said.
eliminate v 消除
On one Saturday in July, Ikebukuro deriheru workers Yamaguchi and Hayama both attended a free monthly consultation project spearheaded by White Hands, a Niigata-based nonprofit organization that addresses social phenomena and problems related to sex.
spearheaded v 倡导
social phenomena and problems
Each month, lawyers and social workers offer consultation opportunities at a tiny apartment in the bustling center of Ikebukuro that in normal days serves as a shared lounge where call girls like Yamaguchi and Hayama can spend their idle hours waiting for calls from clients requesting their services.
a shared lounge
The trailblazing project, dubbed Fu Terasu (Shedding Light on Fuzoku), aims to give women in the industry access to the welfare and legal assistance they need — an approach long thwarted by the deep-set stigma attached to their profession.
The trailblazing project：trailblazing adj 开创性的
dub dubbed 把…称为
an approach long thwarted：thwart n 阻扰
attached adj 附加的
“The most prominent approach taken by municipal officials or lawyers toward those women has long boiled down to something along the lines of ‘you should quit the job immediately,’ because fuzoku, in their opinion, is undesirable by definition,” said Shingo Sakatsume, head of White Hands.
White Hands的头头Shingo Sakatsume说：市政官员或律师对这些女性采取的最突出的做法是“你应该马上辞职”。
The most prominent approach：prominent adj 突出的
municipal officials 市政官员
long boiled down to something：boil down to 归结于…
Sakatsume called the attitudes of officialdom overbearing and said they run counter to the nonjudgmental attitude considered essential to doing social work. Adhering to such a stance only serves to prevent constructive discussion on what women can do to move forward, he said.
run counter to 违反
the nonjudgmental attitude 客观的态度
Adhering to 秉承
such a stance
constructive discussion 建设性的讨论
But in Fu Terasu, “we neither approve nor disapprove of what the women do. We listen to them and figure out what steps need to be taken to improve their situation,” he said.
但在 Fu Terasu，“我们既不赞成也不反对妇女的所作所为。我们听取她们的意见，并找出需要采取哪些措施来改善她们的处境。
Kaoru Aoyama, a sociology professor at Kobe University who has studied the sex industry, agrees.
神户大学（Kobe University）的社会学教授青山（Kaoru Aoyama）（研究性产业）也同意这一观点。
Kobe University 神户大学
In Japan, the misguided notion that sex workers are without exception exploited, abused and forced to do what they do /runs so deep among the public that the whole industry is indelibly stigmatized, she said.
the misguided notion 被误导的观念
abuse v 虐待
indelibly stigmatized 不可磨灭的污蔑
“Branding the industry an evil unconditionally will ultimately deprive women of self-esteem and the kind of ‘bargaining power’ that is crucial to their negotiations with customers or employers, and further weaken their position,” Aoyama said.
ultimately adv 最终
deprive v 剥夺
crucial adj 关键的