London’s transport chiefs should do more to prevent women being harassed on their way home, says Sian Killean.
Using public transport is part of the London routine. It can be stressful, with dingy stations deep underground and hordes of people crowding onto escalators and trains; but we get used to it.
Women being harassed on public transport is different altogether, however. This kind of thing crashes into your routine and makes you ill-at-ease for the rest of the day – or week, month, year, or even your whole life, depending on the seriousness of the incident.
Such occurrences seem to be on the increase, yet the response of those in authority is lagging well behind.
A young woman was assaulted recently while travelling from Liverpool Street station to Witham. She fell asleep and was sexually assaulted by an unknown man. In early November as she walked up an escalator a woman was touched inappropriately by a man, Mohammed Rahman, who was eventually caught, convicted and sentenced to 16 months in prison and a five year ban on the Central Line.
In the latest reported incident, a 25 year old woman was sexually touched while travelling home alone on the train from Fenchurch Street.
Is there insufficient staffing of trains and stations, leaving women more vulnerable to attack? Customer service adviser Reg Ayres reported that: ‘staffing levels vary across the network, however we are working on this and hopefully there will be more staff on platforms by 2016.’
Detective Constable Darren Davies insisted that all such incidents are properly dealt with by police: ‘we take all sexual offences seriously and we are pleased that Rahman has been locked away for this crime, and that we were granted the order banning him from parts of the Underground network.’
Rahman may be the one who didn’t get away, but many other predatory males seem to behave as if women travelling alone are fair game.
Surely those in authority should be doing more to stop it.