Ladies, if you feel uncomfortable catching the night bus home alone or hopping on the last tube to meet your friends, you’re not alone. The fear of unwanted advances, being groped and leered at is very real. FYI a third of London women have been verbally abused on public transport. And it gets worse. According to a survey of 400 women, a fifth of us have been physically abused, making London’s transport system less safe than New York’s, Tokyo’s and Beijing’s. So what are we going to do about it?
Forty-five percent of ladies have admitted that they would feel safer in female-only carriages, but we agree with Laura Bates from the Everyday Sexism Project that this idea would be ‘a step backwards’. While this may provide women with a temporary safe haven, it also fails to address the real problem of why this abuse is happening and how we can prevent it. Women shouldn’t feel the need to hide away in a separate carriage just to feel safe, and men shouldn’t be made to feel like suspects by being kept away from women.
Hollaback London campaigns to end street harassment, and they’ve taken their good work to London’s nightclubs. We need similar support on public transport to provide assistance for women who are harassed and to act as a deterrent to the abusers. That’s where Project Guardian steps up – a collaborative campaign through which Hollaback London, Everyday Sexism, British Transport Police and End Violence against Women Coalition are challenging the problem with patrolling officers and by recording indecent incidents.
While many probably think that being flashed at on the night bus results in a comical tale to tell the day after, in reality it’s a horrible thing to experience. Telling someone about your experience (no matter how small it is) helps to identify abusers and stop them from committing further offences. If you witness or are victim to abuse or harassment make sure you tell the British Transport Police, text 61016, or call 0800 40 50 40.
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