Anime conventions sometimes attract the wrong sort of people — as evidenced by an unfortunate incident in the US where a listed sex offender has pleaded guilty to coercing a thirteen-year-old girl he met at a local convention. The convention in question is now taking steps to screen all attendees and check if they are likewise listed under any sex offender databases.
That’s a scary thought — which leads me to question: should local convention organizers follow suit? We already know of incidents where female convention attendees — particularly underaged cosplayers, or even cosplayers of proper age but wearing revealing outfits, are approached by male participants with less-than-pure intentions.
Some female cosplayers have been asked to pose suggestively, others have been asked for personal information such as full names and mobile phone numbers, and others more have been invited to private shoots to be held at the pervo-grapher’s studio or residence. Due to inexperience, naivite, or just plain old lack of common sense, some of these girls actually agreed to these demands >.>
So yes, the need is there; however, is that enough reason to start implementing screenings? My answer is “No!”. Not only will this be impossible in the Philippine setting (we can’t even prosecute journalist-killing mass murderers, let alone sex offenders), but by asking the convention to take responsibilty for its attendees, we are making it their fault if something bad happens instead of the sexual deviants who commit theses offenses.
Perhaps the only real solution to this dilemma is to teach girls — especially those who love to cosplay, to protect themselves. They should know how to distinguish an innocent request from a potentially dangerous situation, and act ccordingly. They should learn how to say “No.” if they are no longer comfortable with what photographers and other convention participants are asking them to do. Last but not least, they should learn to be more careful with their actions — if they do not create an opportunity for perverts to take advantage of them, then the will never end up as a unfortunate statistic.