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Schools in Japan have strict rules about students’ appearance (including hair colour), proper usage of make-up and the length of skirts. For girls in a male dominated society, those rules are even more stern.
For example, some 57% of Tokyo high schools demand hair-colour proof from girls, meaning that they have to provide pictures of their childhood showing them having blond or brownish hair if this is the hair colour they show up with in school (because Japan is normally uniformly black haired).
For one girl, who will not be named, this proved to be a real problem. The high school she was attending in the Osaka region demanded that she would dye her hair, which was brown originally, to look black, in order to make all girls alike.
The girl’s mother had gone repeatedly with her daughter to school to show pictures of her during her youth, insisting that brown was the girl’s natural hair colour, but to no avail.
The student, now 18 years old, claims that in addition to the mental suffering, the repeated application of hair dye caused physical harm to her scalp and hair.
For this reason, she is now suing the local government and asks for $20k in damages. The first arguments were heard in a court in Osaka today.
Furthermore, the girl was allegedly forbidden to attend class last year when her hair wasn’t dyed black enough, and her teacher sent her back home that day. Later on, she was prevented from going on a school trip with her friends due to her hair colour. In the end, the school board removed her name from the school register. She didn’t attend classes since late 2016.
Mr Naoki Ogi, a TV personality and pedagogy expert (better known as "Ogi-mama" in Japan) commented on the case, saying that this is a “violation of human rights” and that the adults who told the girl this should instead be “aiming for an equal relationship with children that is also caring and respectful.”
The case continues.