The world’s rail and metro systems are continuing their efforts to make networks a safer and less intimidating place for women, as Paris became the latest city to introduce a publicity campaign to stamp out sexual harassment. The French capital has hung posters (pictured) around the city which depict scared women clinging onto metro train poles while menacing animals such as sharks and bears, symbolising unwelcome attention from men, approach. It comes three years after Paris’s last attempt to influence unacceptable behaviour there with hard-hitting advertising. Other countries attempting to make a difference include the UK, Bangladesh, Morocco and Australia.
The central message printed on the Parisian posters, “Let’s not play down sexual harassment. Victims and witness, raise the alarm!”, is part of a strategy to encourage those that have been a victim of such behaviour to not suffer in silence. According to National Observatory of Crime and Criminal Justice figures, 267,000 people (85% of whom were women) were the target of sexual harassment over the last two years – a “conservative estimate” according to the department.
The latest anti-harassment drive from Paris, reported in the UK by The Telegraph, typifies the city’s commitment to calling time on such abuse and runs alongside a city-wide campaign of a minimum £80 (€90) fine to those caught directing sexist comments at women – above, as well as below, ground.
London has also dedicated a significant amount of resource to fighting harassment, in particular against women, on its network which came before the issue hit really hit the headlines following the fall-out from the Harvey Weinstein scandal. Transport for London (TfL), which also has a text message number in place, carried out a television, print and radio campaign to tackle unwanted sexual behaviour on public transport, 90% of which remains unreported said TfL. The Report It. Stop It. campaign sought to – like Paris – change the culture of not reporting incidents of sexual harassment, leading to a 65% uplift of reports since the campaign began last year.
In Africa, a poster programme was rolled out in Morocco in November last year demanding that the targeting of women becomes a thing of the past. “Do not harass me, the public transportation is for you and me,” said the poster that has been primarily displayed in Casablanca, where harassment is reported to be a big problem.
In Australia, where there’s been a 40% spike in the number of sexual offences reported on Victoria’s public transport system (most against women), it has produced the Hands Off campaign to find those people that have molested women on trains and trams – publishing images of individuals that the authorities want to speak to.
Meanwhile, Bangladesh used National Women’s Day (@womensday) to shine a light on the issue in the Asian country, when it officially launched a study that canvassed more than 400 women to see what their experience was like on public transport. A staggering 94% of those women polled said they had been the victim of sexual assault while using trains and buses, a problem exacerbated they said by excessive crowding, lax law implementation and an absence of CCTV.