Women fight sexual harassment on public transport

Incidents of sexual harassment in London provide insight into what women across the UK are going through. (Getty Pictures)

Women experience a “hotbed of harassment” when traveling on public transport, a new campaign points out.

Nearly 200 women and girls, including victims as young as 11, shared their experiences of sexual harassment on Transport for London (TfL) buses and trains.

Testimony has been submitted to Zan Moon, who founded Screengrab Them – ‘a movement tackling rape culture in education’ by ‘exposing online harassment, misogyny and coercion’ – after the murder of Sarah Everard .

During his campaign (shared publicly on Instagram) focuses on the capital, the types of experiences documented are applicable to women in the UK.

Read more: Proposed sexual consent app sparks divisive reaction

Moon submitted the testimonies and wrote to Mayor Sadiq Khan “with grave concern about the issue of the safety of women in London, particularly on TFL services”, asking him to take action.

“In your acceptance speech as mayor last year, you described London as ‘the greatest city in the world’ and yet it is a city in which women are apparently unable to walk home without being targeted, groped, skirted, harassed, insulted, assaulted or even murdered,” she wrote.

With 19 pages of testimonials, Moon has divided the abuse into categories that reflect different types of harassment.

“On the bus, a man sitting behind me started moaning and fidgeting, so I turned around to see what he was doing. He very clearly had his hands in his pants masturbating. got up and walked away, but he kept staring at me until I got off the bus,” one confidently confided.

“I was going out for the day in London and I was wearing a dress (shouldn’t be relevant but sadly it is) and had a coat over it. I took off my coat and a man in the same carriage what said “Are you asking to be f***ed?”, another shared.

‘Men repeatedly rub their groin on my body/hand when on a full tube. This happens a lot,’ one said, while another said, ‘He doesn’t only took four days since I moved to London for someone to grab my ass on the tube without my consent.”

Of the 180 testimonies, 81% say people witnessed what happened to them but did not intervene.

Woman in public transport.  (Getty Pictures)

A new campaign has suggested changes to keep women safe on public transport. (Getty Pictures)

“I asked people to contribute their stories via a Google form but thought I would only get a few responses,” Moon, 24, based in north London, told The Metro.

“The majority show that harassment is not seen as a priority by TfL staff or the government.”

She was forced to launch the investigation after she and her girlfriend were harassed by a group of men in their 40s on the tube in January. They asked them to have sex in front of them to prove they were lesbians and shouted abuse at them. No one intervened despite asking others in the car for help.

“I was quite traumatized by the experience so I contacted the British Transport Police (BTP) but they told me that because the CCTV fades after 72 hours there is nothing they can do,” she said.

“It really upset me and made me angry. It’s such a small window for victims to come forward.”

Her open letter to the mayor also reads: “I acknowledge and have read your ‘Addressing Violence Against Women and Girls’ strategy and I am saddened to say that it is simply not We need tangible change, and we need it now.

“Communication campaigns and “Look, Say, Sort” flyers with a number to text the construction industry are inadequate (not only because the metro is the only place without service), but because the problem is so deep that ‘he needs more than a few ads to #speakup.”

She also received responses from men, which ironically “summarizes perfectly” the attitudes of writers who view violence against women as a joke.

Read more: Five-year-olds are ‘sexist’, but that fades as they get older, study finds

However, Moon suggested changes to the mayor. While she thinks the real problem is educating boys as young as elementary school age about harmful misogyny, she sees the need for immediate action to help keep women safe now.

His suggestions include a constant police presence on TFL platforms and stations, more undercover cops on the subway during rush hour, the immediate repair of the CCTV system, the installation of “harassment panic buttons” on every car and partner with broadband companies to give everyone free Wi-Fi. clandestinely.

That said, a YouGov poll conducted last year by the End Violence Against Women (EVAW) coalition found that 47% of women and 40% of men said trust in the police had declined since Everard’s murder.

Moon also recommends offering self-defense classes, improving staff responses, creating a rigorous rehabilitation program for perpetrators, and increasing pressure on the government to make changes to the education system. This includes teaching boys about misogyny, ensuring boys are tested on consent and feminist attitudes at GCSE level and making self-defence a compulsory part of physical education.

“Last, and most importantly, do everything in your power to change the law to make public sexual harassment a crime,” she wrote.

Sexual harassment is currently not an offense under UK law in its own right, unlike rape and sexual assault.

However, some forms of sexual harassment do violate criminal law in England and Wales, including stalking, indecent exposure, upskirting and sexual harassment involving physical contact (which amounts to sexual assault in English and Welsh law).

Other forms of sexual harassment may also violate criminal law, but it depends on the situation.

Watch: New app helps schools and universities tackle sexual harassment

A spokesperson for the mayor said: “Sadiq is clear that violence and harassment against women is a deep cultural issue in our society, and we must not simply respond to male violence against women and girls, but preventing it, which is why it continues to take action by funding initiatives to address risky offender behavior in order to prevent incidents.

“There is still a lot of work to do, but ending violence against women and girls remains a top priority and the mayor is committed to ensuring that every woman and girl is safe and feels safe. safe, whatever the time of day and wherever she is in the capital.”

A TFL spokesperson said: “In addition to proactive police patrols on public transport, we are working with police to pursue all sexual harassment offenses using our extensive CCTV network and will continue to provide training on the sexual harassment to all front line staff.”

A BTP spokeswoman encouraged the women to continue to come forward: “It is vital that passengers continue to report these kinds of incidents to us so that we can take action – we can identify hotspots, target our patrols and translate more offenders in court. .”

Outside of Moon’s campaign, others are trying to help keep women and girls safe across the country. For instance, safe spaces for women and girls in UK seaside town of Weymouth in Dorset are on trial.

The Pineapple Project was set up after young women called for safe places to seek refuge in their community, with shops, entertainment venues and beauty establishments displaying pineapple stickers to signal that they can help if a woman feels threatened.

And The “downblouse” could soon be criminalized after the Law Commission called for taking pictures of a woman’s top without her consent to be made illegal in England and Wales.

If you are 16 years or older and have been the victim of rape, sexual assault, sexual abuse or any other type of sexual violence, or if you are not sure what happened, you can call rape crisis England and Wales on 0808 802 9999 or chat with them online.

If you need help after a crime, you can also visit Support for victims for free, independent and confidential advice.

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