The academic exchange program between these two universities, provided an opportunity of learning from peers, professors and other organizations that were visited during the program, along with experiencing a new culture and exposure to a developed country.
The focus of my Master’s research thesis was on Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) in the context of transgender community and this visit was enriching in terms of the situation of the same in Japan with regard to this particular problem. It was interesting to know that being a developed country and being more gender equal may not always be proportional to each other. Japan stands quite low in the position of Gender Equality Index (also shared in presentation by Ochanomizu). There is a huge gap even for equality between men and women, achieving equality of other gender identities such as those that fall under the umbrella of transgender seems another challenge.
Especially with regard to knowing more about the situation of transgender people in Japan in general and in context of IPV, discussion with diverse people such as not-for-profit (NPO) organization, professors, organization working on Human Rights was very informative. It was shared that the legal system in Japan recognizes only two genders i.e. man and woman as is also the case in many countries except my own country (India), however, there has been some provision in the Law that supports sex-reassignment surgeries for transgender people, however the conditions specified under this Law are difficult to be met by majority.
It was also shared that in Japan although intimate partner violence involving transgender individual/s do exist however, there has not been any legal support existing for the transgender individuals in this case. In general, through these discussion it was very interesting to know, what I have also read in literature that the lower position of non-heterosexual people and people belong to other gender identities than man and woman, may be because of ‘heterosexuality being a norm’ and two genders are recognized in many societies including Japanese. Even the gender equality discussion only discusses equality issues between binary gender man and woman and misses out the possibility of other gender identities such as ‘third gender’ that do not fit in the gender binaries of man and woman. For example in India, ‘third gender’ is a recognized gender identity by Law along with man and woman.
Lastly, apart from the above, by presenting my proposal in an international platform, it was very enabling in terms of having a global sort of perspective to my study. The suggestions and comments from professors and other participants regarding various aspects of my proposal especially on the research questions and methodological part helped me in rethinking and foreseeing some of the vital issues that can help in better clarity, concept and design of my study.