Translating “Sexual Harassment” in Japan and Egypt: Conception and Perception on the Move

  • Emi Goto (Author)

Identifiers (Article)


This research note is based on work in progress relating to the relevance of translation and semantic framing for the public perception of newly introduced concepts. The article traces trajectories of public perception of the concept “sexual harassment” in different countries. It sheds light on the role played by the translation words that were chosen to introduce the concept into societies where it was not yet established as a term denoting a violation of women’s rights and a serious offence. The term “sexual harassment” was coined in the United States during the 1970s and was subsequently adopted in various parts of the world. Two societies in which the term was adopted in transliteration and translation are Japan and Egypt. In the case of Japan, the term was introduced during the 1980s, yielding the transliterated Japanese loanword sekushuaru harasumento, later abbreviated to seku-hara. It became a buzzword, yet with a less serious nuance than the English term originally aroused. Egypt adopted the term in the 2000s, translated as taḥarrush jinsī in Arabic. The translation word taḥarrush jinsī was strategically selected and subsequently framed so as to denote a serious offence. Examined through an approach known as the “cassette effect”, the comparison of the two cases suggests that the process of framing the meaning of terms and concepts by social movements and advocacy groups is highly significant for their public perception.


Sexual harassment, translation, transliteration, framing, cassette effect, Japan, Egypt