25 November 2021
RMT Press Office:
On International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women RMT survey reveals growing epidemic of sexual harassment against passengers and workers on public transport.
On International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, a new survey of women public transport workers by their union RMT reveals a growing epidemic of sexual harassment against passengers and workers on public transport.
Sexual harassment is a form of violence against women and girls, and on public transport can take many forms including physical and verbal abuse, catcalling, groping, leering, touching and inappropriate comments.
The survey of women public transport workers (Rail, London Underground, Metro, Bus and Passenger Ferry) found that a massive 70% were aware of passengers being sexually harassed on public transport in the last five years, with more than 50% saying they were aware of multiple instances.
The survey also found that:
• 45% of women public transport workers had prevented passengers being sexually harassed in the last five years
• 60% of women public transport workers had been sexually harassed by a member of the public in the last five years
• Two-thirds of women workers who had been sexually harassed by a member of the public did not report the incident, with 70% of those saying it was because they did not think their report would be taken seriously
• 72% of women public transport workers believe that sexual harassment on public transport is becoming a bigger problem
Just a few of the comments provided by women public transport workers include:
“I, a member of staff, have been sexually harassed and assaulted and I am not the only one I know of. There has been very very little support for me, and I am still dealing with the trauma from this four years on.”
“Verbal abuse of a sexual nature is tolerated and not taken seriously”
“I believe that a staff presence helps people feel more comfortable and can provide a deterrent to this kind of behaviour”
“As women we live with sexual harassment as part of our day-to-day life, however this doesn’t make it an acceptable behaviour. We should have more protection in place”
RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said:
“These shocking findings reveal a growing epidemic of sexual harassment on public transport and this must mean an immediate end to the Government’s planned cuts to staffing cuts across our public transport networks. As research by the Government’s own passenger watchdog has found, passengers want to see more, not less staff.
“Cuts to staffing will do nothing to protect passengers from sexual harassment on public transport and risk deterring women and girls from using public transport.
“Sexual harassment is a form of violence against women and girls and these unwanted behaviours must not be tolerated or become normalised.
"In addition to properly staffed public transport networks, there should be more information about how to report sexual harassment on public transport and victims must been given confidence that their reports will be taken seriously with action taken against perpetrators. This also reinforces our long-standing calls for tougher penalties for perpetrators of violence against public transport workers.”