Japan

When Pregnancy Gets You Jobless

Matahara: women’s rights and illegal layoffs in modern Japan

It may sounds like a Japanese word to Western ears, but matahara is an acronym created in Japan from the words ‘maternity harassment’. Matahara defines the attempt of many companies to dismiss women once they get pregnant.
Despite a law guaranteeing the maternity leave, in Japan more than 65% of women give up their job during their pregnancy. “Better: they’re forced to leave their jobs, when not fired” says Sayaka Osakabe, who had suffered two miscarriages because of the stress provoked by her employer. He told her she would have been fired if she had left her job for the week she needed because her pregnancy was at risk. Now Sayaka is a women’s right activist, and the number of Japanese women reporting illegal layoffs is constantly growing.
Their situation is indeed still hard if they want to continue their working career after having a child, as Japan is one of the most male chauvinist countries among the developed ones.

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