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December 3, 2009

Fighting harassment on transit systems

by Alex Roman - Also by this author

Whether it’s at work, on a night out, or riding the bus or subway, women face some sort of sexual harassment every day.

At a recent joint hearing of three New York City Council committees, – Transportation, Women’s Issues and Public Safety – the New York Police Department (NYPD) and Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials spoke about the cry from its riders for more prevention and enforcement of sexual harassment.

During the hearing, James P. Hall, chief of the NYPD’s transit division, spoke about the number of sex offenses and arrests since November 15, 2009, – 587 reports, 412 arrests – but added that he believes those numbers are “highly underreported,” according to a New York Times article. 

Recently, I spoke with Oraia Reid, co-founder and executive director of the Brooklyn, N.Y.-based RightRides for Women’s Safety, for a news story in an upcoming issue about the problem of sexual harassment on New York subways and the push for more enforcement. RightRides’ attempts to build safer communities by ending gender-based harassment and sexual assault through working with the community by organizing and offering direct service, safety education and advocacy programs.

Reid has experienced, firsthand, sexual harassment on New York’s subway system and has seen other people be harassed through either verbal or physical actions, who do not report the incidents. RightRides supports state legislation that has been introduced that will help better track and collect data on sexual harassment on the subway system and increased customer awareness, which the MTA aims to boost via ads, printed brochures and on-board announcements.

Obviously, passenger comfort is a top priority for transit agencies all over the nation. What do you do to ensure passengers aren’t sexually harassed on your system?

Alex Roman

Managing Editor


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  • Jeff Brown[ December 4th, 2009 @ 4:33am ]

    There are police training programs across the country and even ride-along support for police officers responding to harassment, domestic violence, and the like. A specialized or private police force is still the police, and they should be trained to handle the same problems. Proper training and support will improve police protection and reporting, while the employer (the transit agency) gets to show their support for a worthy cause. For more information call your local domestic violence project or 800-799-SAFE (800-799-7233) and ask for information on police officer training.

  • Rapid Share[ January 26th, 2010 @ 11:08pm ]

    It’s a sad situation but certainly not one that is unique to New York or to America, for that matter. I have read that it is a common problem in the Tokyo rapid transit system.
    As long as they think they can get away with it, men who do not respect women will continue to commit these criminal acts. The recent sting is a nice start, but a lot more men will have to get locked up before the majority of offenders will take it seriously.

  • 25th Wedding Anniversary[ February 3rd, 2010 @ 11:09am ]

    As long as they think they can get away with it, men who do not respect women will continue to commit these criminal acts.

  • ka08[ February 5th, 2010 @ 9:25pm ]

    Much appreciated.

  • Insurance Quotes[ March 28th, 2010 @ 5:38am ]

    "It’s a sad situation but certainly not one that is unique to New York or to America, for that matter. I have read that it is a common problem in the Tokyo rapid transit system.
    As long as they think they can get away with it, men who do not respect women will continue to commit these criminal acts. The recent sting is a nice start, but a lot more men will have to get locked up before the majority of offenders will take it seriously."
    I agree with you at this point.

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Alex Roman

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