Japanese store rethinks ‘Seiri-chan’ badges
A Japanese department store where staff could wear badges if they were on their period has said it will “rethink” that policy. The badges – which featured a cartoon character known as Miss Period – were introduced in October.
The intention was that staff could get extra help, or longer breaks, if they were wearing one. “It was never the intention to share the menstrual information with their customers,” a spokeswoman told the BBC.
The Daimaru branch at Osaka Umeda introduced the badges in October for the 500 or so staff in the women’s wardrobe section.
The badges, which were voluntary, were introduced after a suggestion from employees themselves, and were linked to the opening of a new section of the store.
On one side, the badge said the new section devoted to “women’s wellbeing”, was opening on 22 November. On the other side was the “Seiri-chan” mascot (seiri meaning period or menstruation).
The idea, Daimaru spokeswoman Yoko Higuchi told the BBC, was to “improve the working environment” for staff by sharing the information.
When the store told the media about the badges on 21 November, some outlets incorrectly reported that the purpose was to let customers – as well as colleagues – know if a woman was on her period.
One unnamed Daimaru executive told local media there were then “many complaints” from the public, with “some of them concerning harassment”.
Ms Higuchi said some staff “didn’t see the point” in the badges or were “reluctant” to wear them. “But others were positive,” she added. “If you saw a colleague was having her period, you could offer to carry heavy things for her, or suggest she takes longer breaks, and this support would be mutual.”
She also said customers had phoned in with their support. Daimaru are not cancelling the policy, but they are rethinking it. Ms Higuchi said they would come up with a different way of sharing the information – without alerting the public.