Metro combats sexual harassment

A story in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times examines sexual harassment on the Metro system.  

Metro is one of the few transit agencies worldwide that queries its passengers on sexual harassment and we have launched one of the most successful campaigns of its kind to combat the practice that can range from annoying to criminal.

Metro formed a partnership with the advocacy organization Peace Over Violence, which is an internationally recognized authority on the subject. “If left unchecked, sexual harassment can be a testing ground that may lead to ever escalating and more dangerous behaviors,” said Peace Over Violence Executive Director Patti Giggans. “Metro saw the problem and had the courage to face it and take aggressive steps to combat sexual harassment.”

In April, we debuted “It’s Off Limits” to encourage victims and witnesses of sexual harassment to make a report to the Sheriff’s hotline 888.950.SAFE (7233). That line rings at the Sheriff’s Transit Policing Division dispatch desk and help can be sent without delay. Also, every rail car is equipped with an emergency button that notifies the operator of trouble on board and the train operator knows how to get help right away. Bus riders can notify the operator, or use their cell phone to call the hotline or 911 to get local police.

Metro also has a smartphone app, LA Metro Transit Watch for iPhone and Android devices that allows users to make a digital report to the Sheriff’s dispatch center and include a photograph of the harasser.

In July, every Metro employee was given simple instructions to follow in the event a person who has been victimized approaches them for assistance. They are instructed to call for medical help if necessary, learn what happened and where, notify authorities, provide a description of the suspect and stay with the person until help arrives.

Some people wrongly think that sexual harassment is something that must be tolerated. We disagree. In our latest survey, conducted in May and June of this year, the number of riders reporting incidents of sexual harassment fell from 22 percent in 2014 to 19 percent. To put those numbers in context, a 2007 online survey of New York Subway riders found that 63 percent being sexually harassed.

We’re not resting on our laurels. A new, updated, campaign will be launched soon to engage more people and put harassers on notice that they can’t hide and we’ll prosecute when we catch them.

SexualHarassmentItsOffLimits

11 replies

    • That would be basically reinforcing that it is a problem. Realistically if you feel unsafe, you need to sit in the car where the operator is in, or in the front of the bus. Report people ASAP with the app or on the phone.

  1. “Perhaps Metro can offer simple self defense classes similar to how they teach bike safety classes?”

    I’d sign up immediately if it was offered. For someone who can’t understand that no means no, they deserve to get their butt kicked.

  2. News fact: we have female Army Rangers today that again, proves that women can do anything that men could.
    https://youtu.be/AHM1x0dWbEo

    If these organizations and people really want to help against violence, what they should be doing is promoting practical, real life solutions like teaching basic martial arts skills for children, women, men, and the elderly.

    Which do you think is going to be a more practical use skill when someone tries to sexually harass you on the train or the bus? A stupid app that’s not going to help you get out of that situation as it’s happening, or some martial arts skills to pound that sucker to the ground?

    I’d take a more realistic “Defense against Violence” motto anyday. Learning martial arts like aikido is far more practical than a stupid app.
    https://youtu.be/p82CcT2devo?list=PLCB230E2A3D86D33C

  3. Just this afternoon witnessed a man on a rush hour 720 offer a woman he didn’t know a seat on his lap.

  4. 1)So I need to have a smartphone to travel on Metro now?
    2)How can I contact the LASD (or anyone else) if the tunnels have no cell service?
    3)Does Metro test the Emergency Buttons daily? I ask only because in my, albeit limited, experience, they do not work.

    Two suggestions: More presence on platforms and trains, and more posting of vehicle (fleet) numbers to help locate where things are happening. They do this in Denver.

  5. > Perhaps Metro can offer simple self defense classes similar to how they teach bike safety classes?

    The message that a metro sponsored self defense class would send is “if you can’t defend yourself then you get what you deserve.” I think very few people would agree with this message (except maybe sexual harassers).

    • “The message that a metro sponsored self defense class would send is “if you can’t defend yourself then you get what you deserve.” I think very few people would agree with this message”

      You’re right.

      A more logic minded person would think that if Metro sponsored a self defense class, the message that people would see it as “Metro teaches a valuable, real life skill that will come in very handy in situations where one would need to defend themselves from violence.”

      http://i.imgur.com/ZyTY5L2.jpg