Sexual harassment on London's public transport network

Solace response to the new YouGov research that suggests tens of thousands of incidents of sexual harassment on buses and the Tube go unreported.

It is astounding and completely unacceptable that in our city 50% of women experience sexual harassment on the transport network. Equally alarming is that, of the tens of thousands of women who are inflicted with this abuse, only 2% feel able to make a complaint to Transport for London.

This speaks volumes to how society continues to minimises women’s experience of sexual harassment and the lack of confidence women have in being believe and taken seriously, as well as organisation taking appropriate action.

There are factors relating to harassment on public transport that presents both women and the police with different challenges. The busyness, confined space and motion of the tube allows for intended bodily contact (assault) to be passed off as unintentional and enables men, predominantly, to offend anonymously with little risk of being exposed.

Harassment is part of the continuum of violence against women and girls and must be taken seriously. For women experiencing sexual harassment in their everyday life has a significant impact on their freedom of movement and seriously restricts how they negotiates travel around London increasing their fears and vulnerabilities.

Despite efforts to encourage the reporting of sexual harassment thought advertising campaigns, something is clearly not working.

It is time that government and relevant bodies recognised that serious investment is needed to take action. We must pave the way to a safer London for women and ensure those affected by sexual harassment get the right support. Solace calls for support services for women by women, including Feminist self-defence; education and engagement to change male attitudes and women-centred planning of public services including public transport, street lighting and policing.