Transport for London (TFL) have released a new video entitled Report It To Stop It aiming at encouraging passengers to report any incidents of unwanted sexual attention – be it from a glance to a grope.
Personally, I believe that this campaign is long overdue. British Transport Police admit that 90% of sexual harassment incidents on the system go unreported, and are spreading the message that the only way to prevent this harassment is to catch the perpetrators in the act.
The video will hit hard for many: throughout it we are repeatedly asked if we would report the behaviour, as the man’s actions become increasingly more and more predatory – behaviour that is uncomfortably familiar to the thousands of women that use the Tube every day.
In rush-hour crowds, how can you judge when a lack of space constitutes an invasion of your private space? Is that his dick pressing into the small of your back or is it just the train making him move?
Many of my friends have told stories of their experiences, including one when a man grabbed her hand – perhaps slightly more innocent than breathing down her neck or a grope, but unwanted physical contact nonetheless.
Any unnecessary contact that is unwanted is considered assault, and that is the message that TFL are trying to put across.
Growing up in London, I have had my fair share of Tube journeys but one sticks out in my memory far more prominently than the rest.
It was rush hour, and I was 13 years old, with bare legs and an admittedly short school skirt on, getting the tube home with my dad. Everyone was crammed into the carriage and I felt something on the inside of my thigh.
I managed to manoeuvre myself a little closer to my dad; but then it happened again, hot breath on my neck and a hand up my skirt. I moved closer to my dad but the hand was still there. The next stop arrived and the man, around 35 years old, bolted.
To this day my dad doesn’t know what happened, and at the time my instinct was to freeze. But we should know as women that we do should not simply keep quiet. I was too scared to say anything because I was ashamed, but harassment of any kind is not your fault. That man was assaulting a child and if caught, would have likely been imprisoned.
Report any incidents of unwanted sexual behaviour on public transport by texting what happened, where and when to 61016 or calling 101.