Managers at a Japanese department store may no longer have their staff don a “scarlet letter” badge during their periods.
A spokesperson for the Daimaru chain has announced that the company will “rethink” the policy, introduced in October.
“It was never the intention to share the menstrual information with their customers,” Daimaru spokeswoman Yoko Higuchi told the BBC.
The uniform flare featured a manga character dubbed “Little Miss Period,” according to the Japan Times.
A store branch located in Osaka’s Umeda district launched the badges, which were voluntary, as a way to allow employees to discreetly indicate to supervisors that they are experiencing their menstrual cycle — which may allow for extended breaks and extra help.
The store said they created the system based on suggestions from their staff, and were in part as promotion for a new section of the store dedicated to “women’s wellbeing,” which opened last week.
Higuchi said they had merely intended to “improve the working environment.”
Higuchi reported that some staff were “reluctant” to wear them or “didn’t see the point” of the system.
“But others were positive,” she said. “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.”
An unnamed Daimaru executive told Japan Today that they’d received “many complaints” from the public after the story was first reported in local media last week, “some of them concerning harassment.”
Daimaru said they will not discontinue the policy altogether, but are reconsidering their approach, and plan to refrain from sharing the new employee code with the public.
Menstruation has long been a taboo conversation topic in Japanese culture, according to BBC News’ Yuko Kato. “But that is changing in a big way,” she said, later adding that discourse about women’s health on social media has “contributed to this openness.”
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