Just Let Me Ride

This won't be the last time we say it: the MBTA doesn't take sexual harassment in public space very seriously. In an interview this week, T spokesman Joe Pesaturo said, "The [sexual harassment] statistics are virtually identical to those for the same period last year." While that may be the case, Joe, we'd love a statement from your office that offers full compliance with investigations of these crimes and hey, maybe you could even be more open to the fact that this is a real problem that creates widespread distrust and involves real threat in public spaces?

Since bitter rivalry tends to get New Englanders hyped up, you'd think we'd be doing a better job keep up with what New York is doing?

Labels: , , ,


This week we've got another gem from the "anonymous gripes and grouses" section in the Letters to the Editor of the esteemed Weekly Dig:

Dear guy in the red hat JERKING OFF in Target
Yes, I saw you. WTF is wrong with you? I'm all for sexual freedom and the rights of people to do what they want with consenting adults and/or themselves. But come on. Time and place for things, huh?

PS: You could have chosen something sexier than that lilac-colored granny-looking bathrobe for your partner, receptacle, object d'amore.

We definitely don't need any reminders that there are all kinds in this city, but this one is just over the top.

Labels: , , ,


MBT hey!

"Once I took photos of a guy who looked like he was about to punch another guy, and that [the photo] prevented him [from doing so]," Desjardins said. "I think having cameras there is going to dissuade terrorism, not facilitate it."

Ever tried to take a photo on the T or on the platform while waiting for a train, only to be approached by an MBTA employee telling you that you can't? Ever been ousted from the station in the name of terrorism - like we were at Park Street - for attempting to snap some pics of a quintessential part of your city? Luckily, a host of concerned citizens - along with the ACLU - have succeeded in taking down the red tape around the MBTA's "no photography" policy.

According to the new draft policy, when photographing on the T, you must provide ID upon request, the subject of the picture cannot pose a security risk, your activity of shooting does not disrupt MBTA operations and the pictures are for non-commercial use only.

Which is good news for us cause as you know a whole hell of a lot of street harassment happens on dem trains.

What's ironic about this success in reclaiming our civil liberties is that it brings to light the reality that it's not an issue of having cameras, but in fact, WHO has the camera. In other words, it's not as if the MBTA, Boston Police Dept, and more don't already photograph us everywhere we go. Count the cameras next time you find yourself in the under-construction Arlington T stop. Can you find more than the eleven we do in a casual stroll down the corridor?

We understand as much as the next person that this type of constant surveillance may simply be a truth in our current existence. We just want to make sure it can work for us and that perhaps someday harassment and holla'ing back will be equated with the terrorism the MBTA seems to think it is protecting itself against. Perhaps they will even hand over those surveillance tapes if someone steps to us while I'm waiting for the trolley. Until we can be sure, we're liberating our cameras and cell phones while riding.


Labels: , , ,


In the hands of the law

"I think this goes to a public education campaign. This is not NYPD's fault, this is a culture that has been allowed to fester for generations." [source]
Whether or not you agree with that assessment, we know that large cities aren't the only areas effected by the street harassment epidemic. But because of size and resources, thankfully, slowly, metropolitan areas and their governing officials are starting to discuss invasions of indecency in public space in a serious manner.

This week, Manhattan Borough president Scott Stringer issued a report, "Hidden in Plain Sight, Sexual Harassment and Assault in the New York City Subway System". The reports findings include some important statistics about street harassment in public transit, including:
  • 63 percent of respondents reported having been sexually harassed in the New York City subway system.

  • 10 percent of respondents reported having been sexually assaulted in the New York City subway system.

  • 69 percent of respondents reported having felt the threat of sexual assault or harassment in the New York City subway system.

  • Of those respondents, 51 percent reported “sometimes” or “frequently” feeling the threat of sexual harassment or assault in the New York City subway system.

  • 96 percent of respondents who indicated that they were sexually harassed did not contact the NYPD and/or the MTA to file a report or seek assistance.

  • 86 percent of respondents who indicated that they were sexually assaulted did not contact the NYPD and/or the MTA to file a report or seek assistance.
Also included in Stringer's press release were guidelines to work against street harassment:
  • Ensuring that NYPD tracks subway sexual harassment and assault crimes as stand-alone offenses; tracks the prevalence of these crimes across time, borough, individual subway lines, and stations; and makes all of these statistics publicly available and easily accessible.

  • Increasing NYPD presence on subway trains & in subway stations.

  • Introducing and upgrading needed safety amenities throughout the transit network.

  • Launching an ongoing public awareness campaign to educate riders about the risk of sexual harassment and assault in the subway system, preventive measures that riders can take, steps that victims of sexual harassment and assault can take to seek support, and the overall importance of reporting sexual harassment and assault incidents to authorities.
As street harassment falls on the spectrum of sexual violence, it's also important to remember that most sex crimes are underreported because of the sometimes unfortunate lack of resources and recourse for survivors.

Unfortunately, some high-ranking public officials a little closer to home - like the Boston Police Department's Superintendent-in-Chief - have gotten tripped up on their misogyny. Let's hope Boston steps up to the example set by the NYPD and solidifies the role of law enforcement in helping making our streets more safe.

Labels: , , ,