There has been a lot of talk recently about the subject of sexual harassment on public transport and what it means for the society we live in, even right here in Nottingham. The fact that so many people feel threatened when going about their daily business is a real issue which should be addressed and tackled. It has become a normal part of everyday life, as women avoid going out if they know they will have to return alone, or at least find alternative modes of transport. But why should we find the need to splash out on a cab and change our routine in order to avoid something which shouldn’t even be an issue?

Following a survey, Impact Features found that sexual harassment is indeed a close-to-home concern. If the results represent the University as a whole, they show that 80% of female students have experienced discomfort from sexual harassment on public transport (a much lower statistic for males), which is anything from inappropriate expressions to physical harassment. The most shocking results show that 13% have experienced unwanted physical contact and 10% have been followed home by a member of the public that was on the bus, with only one person reporting the issue. In fact, only 4% of people experiencing any type of unwanted sexual harassment reported their encounter. These figures show that sexual harassment is a real problem that should not be dismissed as a rare or minor occurrence.

“More must be done to tackle the root of the problem altogether, targeting the perpetrator rather than the victim”

If we look at Britain as a whole, most people are familiar with the recent Transport for London advert ‘Report it to Stop it’. It’s great that TFL have finally shone light on the concept, but perhaps it is being addressed from the wrong angle. Rather than promoting a fight against sexual harassers, they present the issue as inevitable, and the best and only thing you can do is tell someone. Whilst most would agree that reporting harassment should be advocated, more must be done to tackle the root of the problem altogether, targeting the perpetrator rather than the victim. After all, public transport is public, therefore an individual cannot be blamed for being an easy target through being alone (although that shouldn’t be condoned either).

Perhaps public transport can be made safer by having a more frequent service at night with better-lit bus stops argues The Independent, while Jeremy Corbyn proposes female-only carriages on trains. Both of these are valid suggestions, yet how would this work here in Nottingham? For one, our main modes of transport are buses, which would be impossible to regulate in terms of gender. Assuming that those who harass are not students of Nottingham, perhaps a student-only night bus with a frequent service would limit intimidation, unlike the 34 which is available to the general public. Other than this, warnings should be advertised for harsh sentences given to perpetrators around Nottingham, as well as the obvious yet crucial looking out for your friends after a night out at Ocean. We should be able to enjoy our city without having to avoid modes of transport in fear of possible harassment. It may be difficult to combat the issue, but at the very least we must definitely be aware that sexual harassment is a real problem.

Sofia Knowles

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