Home U.S. Transit SystemsMBTA In Boston, if you feel something, say something

In Boston, if you feel something, say something

by Benjamin Kabak

Crowded subway cars often create bad situations for women, and the vast majority of men know little or nothing about it. Ask your female friends, however, and more than one of them are bound to have stories to tell about fellow straphangers getting a little too close, a little too frisky and a little too touchy-feely during rush hour. It is a sad reality of life in the subways.

But up in Boston, the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority has launched a campaign aimed at raising awareness of subway groping. They’re trying to combat a problem that has long remained under the radar. Tovia Smith on NPR’s All Things Considered had more on this story last week:

Transit officials in Boston recently launched an aggressive campaign aimed at cracking down on people who take advantage of the tight squeeze on crowded trains. Over the past month, officials say the program has led to a record number of arrests for subway sex assaults…

Transit officials say women usually don’t report groping incidents because they’re embarrassed and don’t believe it will have any effect. So officials have plastered subway cars with nearly a thousand signs urging victims to speak out — and warning potential predators that they are being watched by cameras and by “the grope patrol” of undercover police officers.

The ads — one of which you can see above — urge women to report gropers and warn potential violators that they will be caught. It is a tastefully done and very necessary public awareness campaign. Furthermore, women are being more proactive in reporting groping incidents and many are relying on cell phone cameras to catch perps in the act.

Here in New York, the MTA doesn’t enjoy the same threat of security cameras as the MBTA. While that may change, the MTA takes a very hands off approach to subway groping. Now and then, sexual offenders are caught on camera by vigilant passengers, but more often than not, passengers both male and female are subjected to behavior that they shouldn’t tolerate.

I have to believe that perhaps a similar campaign to that in Boston would be a bit more effective than patrols armed with machine guns. But either way, this is a problem we shouldn’t keep silent any longer.

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