Reports of sexual harassment on public transport in the UK have increased significantly this year comparing to 2019. As a response to that, TFL has launched a new campaign to tackle the issue and “emphasise zero tolerance approach to all forms of unwanted sexual behaviour and sexual harassment”. The behaviours such as cat calling, exposing, cyber-flashing, staring, etc. are highlighted in the campaign as examples of sexual harassment.
Between April and October 2021 British Transport Police received 421 reports of this kind of offences, while two years ago the figure was 259 over the same period.
Credit: BBC News
According to a YouGov survey from 2020, up to 90% of offences are still not being reported. Westminster World spoke to the Londoners to find out their opinion on the reasons for the spike in cases and see whether they would report these incidents to officials:
Gender studies professor, James Gordon, stated that while sexual harassment is mostly affecting woman, men can experience it as well: “Men generally don’t report it… I think it’s a part of our pride and masculinity not to report things. I was a therapist for troubled youth, mostly boys, and half of our boys from the age of 12 to 18 were raped or sexually harassed, including by women.”
With the number of incidents growing, the public has increasingly asked for the change in legislation to happen. In 2019 up skirting (taking photos under somebody’s clothing) became a criminal offence which could lead to up to two years in prison.
Sally Thomas, Plan UK’s girls’ rights policy and advocacy manager spoke to the Evening Standard about the issue: “Currently, the law isn’t fit for purpose: if a girl is going to school on the train and a man leans against her; presses his body against her, invades her space and whispers obscene comments in her ear, she is not protected. That’s why we’re calling for the Government to introduce a new comprehensive law on Public Sexual Harassment as a matter of urgency.”
Earlier this month Prime Minister Boris Johnson has rejected the idea of making the misogyny a hate crime and argued that “adequate legislation” already exists to protect women and girls.