Sexual Harassment Tops New York City Subway “Quality of Life” Complaints

At a conference held today, November 19th by the New York City council addressed the growing complaints of sexual harassment on crowded subway cars throughout the city. Using information gathered from the NYPD and the Metropolitan Transit Authority, the conference drew attention to this increasingly disturbing trend of women being sexually harassed on subway cars.

The report claimed that most complaints result from riders on crowded, rush hour subway cars. In particular, the reports singled out the 4 5 6 line running between Union Square and Grand Central station as an area of concern. The conference drew a number of politicians and City officials taking a hard stand against this harassment, which often takes the form of touching, lewd gesturing, ogling, or threats, usually coming from men and directed at women.

James P. Hall, a representative of the NYPD’s Transit Police fore stated that subway sexual harassment is the “No. 1 quality of life offense on the subway”, while Darlene Mealy from the Women’s Issues Committee stated that riders should “not take [sexual harassment] as social behaviors that have to be condoned.”

While complaints are up from years past, the reports stated that these figures are likely to be under representative of the larger problem of harassment on subways, with victims not always coming forward to complain, and that crowded trains often make it difficult to figure out exactly what is going on, and who is carrying out the harassment.

While the complaints highlight growing intolerance for such behavior, coupled with a subway information campaign alerting riders to report any instances of sexual harassment, the report called for a greater policing of these incidents on the subways and to punish offenders. Arrest records from subway sexual harassment cases showed that of the 412 individuals arrested, 71 had previous records for sexual assault.

The article also talks about new forms of enforcement. Police are informing individuals to get cell phone camera pictures of the individuals in question to aid in identification. The police can then use these pictures to help locate and arrest offenders, a tactic that has had success in past events.

As the ads state, a crowded car is not an excuse for sexual harassment. If you are being harassed on a train car, speak up and let the car know of the offending behavior, and try to notify the police as soon as possible. As more individuals report these events, it will hopefully be harder for offenders to carry out such egregious and illegal behavior.