In psychiatry, the clinical term frotteurism (no longer called frottage) refers to a specific paraphilia which involves the non-consensual rubbing against another person to achieve sexual arousal. The contact is usually with the hands or the genitals and may involve touching any part of the body including the genital area. The majority of frotteurs are male and the majority of victims are female,UCSB's SexInfo although female on male frotteurs exist. Adult on child frotteurism is a common early stage in child sexual abuse.Protecting our kids This non-consensual activity may be done discreetly without being discovered, or in circumstances where the victim cannot respond, typically in a public place such as a crowded train, or at a rock concert. In common speech frotteurism is called groping though this term may sometimes be used for consensual Frottage.

Usually such nonconsensual sexual contact is viewed as criminal offense: a form of sexual assault albeit often classified as a misdemeanor with minor legal penalties. Conviction may result in a sentence including compulsory psychiatric treatment.

A person who practices frotteurism is known as a frotteur.


The term frotteurism derives from the French verb frotter meaning 'to rub'. The term frotteur is the French noun literally meaning 'rubber' or 'one who rubs'.

The psychiatric handbook, the DSM (see below), used to call this sexual disorder by the name frottage until the second edition (DSM II). However, this term is no longer used in the USA to refer to the sexual disorder, which is now called frotteurism, as it is in the current fourth edition (DSM IV). Nevertheless, the term frottage still remains in some law codes and is synonymous with the term frotteurism. "Frottage" is now used for consensual rubbing as part of normal sexual activity.


The professional handbook of the American Psychiatric Association (APA), the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition (DSM IV), lists the following diagnostic criteria for frotteurism.

DSM IV Classification

According to DSM IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, IV edition), where all psychiatric illnesses are represented as numerals to avoid confusion, frotteurism is classified as 302.89.

Groping in Japan

Chikan (??, ???, or ???) is a Japanese term referring to an obscene act conducted against the victim's will, or a person who commits such an act. The term is frequently used to describe men and women, who take advantage of the crowded conditions on the public transit systems to touch people sexually. While the term is not defined in the Japanese legal system, vernacular usage of the word describes acts that violate several laws. In clinical psychology, this desire is called frotteurism. Although women on crowded trains in Japan are the most frequent targets of chikan, sexual predators in Japan can take advantage of people of either sex in other situations as well. One such situation for frottage is bicycle parking lots, where a molester will wait until a woman or man is bent over, unlocking his or her bicycle lock, and then grope him or her from behind. Chikan often features in Japanese pornography, along with other non-consensual themes.

As part of the effort to combat chikan, some railway companies have designated women-only passenger cars.

One high-profile instance is that of economist and former professor at the graduate school of Waseda University Kazuhide Uekusa who has a string of arrests for sex-related offences, the most recent of which came when he was arrested for molesting a schoolgirl on a train on September 13, 2006.

The neologism referring to the corresponding female chikan, albeit mainly used in the context of pornography, is chijo.

Concern and controversy

The issue of groping does not just affect females but males also. Such is the concern of groping in Japan that a film has been made about it. The film ''I Just Didn't Do It'' by Japanese film director Masayuki Suo, based on a true story, focuses on a male office worker acquitted of groping after a five year legal battle. The film aims to highlight the issue of groping and challenge the fairness of Japan's secretive legal system, which has a 99.9% percent conviction rate in the criminal courts. However, an independent legal study has suggested that the reason for the high conviction rate is not a pro-conviction bias but is instead attributable to understaffed and under-financed prosecutors' offices pursuing only the most solid cases. Even so, the criminal courts have traditionally been lenient in cases of groping and have only recently made efforts to combat the social problem with tougher sentences.

See also

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