Nearly a third of women using public transport in London have been subjected to verbal abuse, a survey has revealed.
The survey of 400 women, conducted by YouGov and the Thomson Reuters Foundation, also found that a fifth of those women had been physically assaulted and 45% said they'd feel safer in women-only carriages.
It's pretty staggering that some people still think it's absolutely fine to harass, abuse and assault women using public transport. Honestly, how many times do we have to point out that it's not acceptable? We even gave some fairly explicit guidelines last month for anyone struggling with the concept of appropriate conduct. Hollaback campaigner Bryony Beyon told the BBC:
"I've experienced all sorts of verbal and physical harassment across London's transport network.
"I've had people expose themselves to me on buses. I've been groped on the Tube. It's an incredibly common thing and it's often not spoken about. There's a culture of silence around this."
A Hollaback video went viral this week when a New York woman filmed her experiences of street harassment.
But while a lot of women say they'd feel safer with women-only carriages, Laura Bates from the Everyday Sexism Project calls it a 'step backwards', and merely containing the problem. Which we agree with. Why should women have to segregate themselves to feel safe? The onus should be on harassers to not behave like dicks. Surely most passers-by would step in to help if they saw a woman being harassed? Well, certainly London's women don't have much faith in have-a-go heroes — 74% of those polled said they wouldn't be confident that bystanders would come to their aid.
In the meantime, here's a handy link for Project Guardian, the long-term initiative between the British Transport Police, the Met and City police to combat sexual assaults and unwanted behaviour on public transport.
Photo by Fenris Oswin in the Londonist Flickr pool.