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I was on the 7 train going into Manhattan a few weeks ago. The car I was in wasn’t very crowded, and there was plenty of room for people to sit, or at least not have to crowd each other while standing. I was sitting on the train playing on my iPhone when we suddenly went underground so I put my phone down and decided to look around the car and people watch. When I looked to my left, I noticed a man in his 30s standing in front of a girl who was sitting on the train. At first I didn’t think much of it, but when I looked a second time I noticed his sweatpants were pulled tight against his crotch. I looked again and saw that he was purposefully standing in front of the girl, pulling his pants tight against his erection. She was trying to look down at her phone to avoid looking at his thingy. I regret not taking his photo because I’m sure he’s done this to others.
Submitted by Alexandra
In a recent report on women’s safety in public transit (found here), author Loukaitou-Sideris, a professor of urban planning at the UCLA School of Public Affairs, was quoted saying:
“The perception that a bus station, train car, parking lot or particular neighborhood is dangerous forces many women to alter their travel patterns. This limits their access to the most basic of rights — to move freely in the public sphere. The situation is worse for low-income and minority women, who may reside in high-crime areas, travel back from work at odd hours, and lack the resources for private transport, such as cars and taxis.”
The report cited HollabackNYC as one of the grassroots groups organizing for improved safety in public transit for women. To read an article in Metro Magazine on the report, click here. To read an article in Physorg, click here.
Co-Founder Sam Carter recently published a Letter to the Editor in the Washington Square News.
“While Jenny Tai’s reporting was a welcome contribution to the evolving debate on subway and street harassment in this city, unfortunately she did not dig deep enough to uproot some data and details that reveal just how widespread and pervasive this problem is in this city, and, indeed, around the world.
Hanging her reporter’s cap on one unreliable (and MTA-collected) statistic — that 587 sexual offenses on the subway system have been reported — was a poor choice for this complex issue.”
Ok, so I realize that this happened a year ago: but no one told us! We are proud to be listed as one of the top ten feminist blogs by Take Part.
Here is a short, informal, anonymous survey from Holly Kearl where men can share their thoughts specifically on how best to reach men on this issue and engage them in ending it.
Male allies, please take a few minutes and share your thoughts on this topic:
Holly will be incorporating these comments into her upcoming book!
Do you feel safe riding NYC’s public transit system? Give yourself and others a voice, by sharing your mass transit experiences.
In mid-January, New Yorkers for Safe Transit (NYFST) will be hosting two focus groups for survivors of gender and discrimination-based violence and harassment on New York City’s public transportation system. We’re seeking focus group participants for two 2 hour sessions (6-8 pm). We are interested in hearing first-hand accounts from women, people of color, LGBTQGNC individuals, youth, and low-income individuals.
With your help, we will be able to raise public awareness on this issue and continue progress towards eliminating harassment and violence on mass transit.
Please spread the word and contact us at [email protected] to sign up and more information on dates and location.
Light refreshments will be served and $4.50 MetroCards will be provided.
Just want to share my recent episode of street harassment there are so many to share. I was walking down the street (of course) and a gypsy taxi driver ask me if I needed a taxi. I said no thank you. Of course he took this opportunity to make a slick remark about how sexy I was to him. I ignored like I didn’t here anything.
Then I went into the store. He watch for me to come out. and I purposely avoided going back in his direction. he then started yell things like “sexy” and then he yelled “champion” I kept walking like I didn’t hear him I guess he got angry any then yelled out “Big Draws.” I maintained my composure although I wanted to say some thing back.
Then to add on more embarrassment I called 311 to complain about the gypsy taxi drivers and their constant street harassment. They then referred me to 911 and told me they would have to send a police officer to my home in order to make a complaint.
Submitted by Teisha
This is an update to the post “I didn’t think he’d be able to get one past me” from December 4th.
WOW. I just wanted to write and give an update to my story. As I said, I was so shaken up that I didn’t have the mind to get off the train after the assault and find a police officer. I knew that I would definitely report it but the man was pretty non-descript and got off amidst hundreds of other people so I didn’t think it would matter if I reported it right then or the next day.
It happened on Wednesday evening during rush hour and I found the number for the NYC sex crimes hotline (212) 267-RAPE finally yesterday and called. They were so nice and called me back after having spoken with the transit precinct in my area that would handle the situation. She asked me if I would be willing to go out there and look through some mugshots and press charges. I was beside myself–I felt grateful someone had even answered the phone, let alone that they were taking the situation seriously. I said absolutely and took the train straight out to the precinct, which is actually located in the Van Wyck Blvd. subway station in Queens.
The officer was expecting me and got some initial information and had her partner take the full report. I described the guy to the best of my ability–I gave estimates of his weight and height and I could remember some of the details of his face and what he was wearing. She asked if I would be able to pick him out of some photos and I said sure I would try. She asked why I didn’t report it after it happened because there had been an officer on that platform at that time and it could have facilitated the process. I just told her because I was shaken up and didn’t think it would make a difference. I just wasn’t prepared for something like that to happen and didn’t want to get off at the same stop as the creep, either.
The two detectives I needed to speak with had gotten called out to something so she said unfortunately I would need to come back to look through the photos and I said that wasn’t a problem and her partner offered to walk me out to the train. As we were walking out the two detectives walked up and I was elated. I couldn’t believe the good fortune. They took me into their office and apologized for having me repeat the story but they needed to get as many details as possible. They set me up on a computer and offered me water and asked if I needed to use the phone since there wasn’t any cell phone reception down there. We entered some search parameters in the database and I began clicking through dozens of pages of criminals. There were whole pages of people who looked nothing like my assailant and I just clicked through. Given the nature of the crime I wasn’t so sure he would be in the system–because he hadn’t committed a rape or outright exposed himself and I know that “smaller crimes” like public groping and indecency are reported, let alone prosecuted, with much much less frequency.
I asked how advanced the system was and if I could set aside certain photos that were more similar than others just to kind of give them a more general idea of what he looked like but unfortunately that wasn’t really possible. There were thousands and thousands of photographs and so another detective entered some more specific criteria and revised the search while another brought out a new binder with print outs of criminals that have been arrested more recently. I was pretty sure the mugshot efforts would be futile but I was so grateful for the incredibly respectful and smooth experience I was having with reporting such a gross and heinous, albeit sometimes shrugged off, crime. I really couldn’t believe it.
I opened the binder and started flipping through a few pages while the detectives pulled out even more binders that I could look through next. I had maybe flipped through about 10 pages and I turned a page and my heart just nearly stopped. My legs went absolutely limp and I could feel the adrenaline coursing through my body. My heart started racing and my hands were shaking and I said “omigosh–my heart is racing and my legs are limp and there’s adrenaline pumping and I don’t know why I would have this experience if this weren’t him” And the female detective laughed and said “Well that’s a pretty good sign.” And I said “that’s the guy.” And the male detective asked me with what percentage of certainty I could say that it was him and I felt so surreal, couldn’t believe I was actually picking someone out of a book of mugshots and that out of a city of 8 million people, this perp was actually in the book, and I said “100% that is the guy.” He had been arrested only once before, three years ago, within a week of the crime against me, for something similar. His physical statistics matched what I had given them in my report almost to a T. In the report I had remembered some freckles on his nose and we zoomed in to the photo and sure enough-little brown freckles.
So there’s a search warrant out for this guy and one of the officers had just seen him on the train the day that I went in. He’s definitely out there and no stranger to NYC’s pervy little world. They said that if and when they pick him up they’ll bring him in and I’ll stand behind a glass window and I’ll pick him out of a lineup. I have no idea what to make of the situation–filing the report for my own personal sanity and reponsibility and having an officer take it down and not shrug it off or tell me there was nothing they could do about it was beyond my own wildest expectations. That all this has happened as a result is absolutely incredible and mind boggling. If this creep is picked up and released or picked up and questioned and it makes him think twice about prowling around and spreading his misery and disease to others I will be happy. If this creep is picked up and I am able to press charges…well I have no idea what kind of effect that would have on me. But a big amount of justice took place yesterday and for that I am happy.
In today’s AMNY: Transit cop charged with raping teen. Thanks to Heather Haddon, one of our HOLLAheroes, for reporting this awful crime. When station booth attendants are being cut left and right, every man counts.
“A 29-year-old transit cop charged with raping an 18-year-old woman is scheduled to face a judge on Wednesday.
Shawqi Ahmed, an officer since January 2006, was arrested by the NYPD Friday. Ahmed allegedly met the woman at a Brooklyn club on Thanksgiving and raped her in an apartment later that night, according to published reports. The NYPD would not confirm the details of the incident yesterday.
“It’s particularly a travesty considering this was someone people depend on to keep them safe,” said Emily May of Holla Back, a Web site documenting harassment and sexual abuse in New York City.
The case will go to a grand jury at Kings County Criminal Court, a DA spokesman said.”
Sunday December 6, 2009 6:28 PM By Heather Haddon
I’ve lived in NYC for five years and felt very fortunate that I had not yet experienced a sexual assault on the subway, as most of my friends have. I feel as though I am a very alert person but these perverts are just too good at being perverts and it snuck up on me.
A five foot tall man with a cap got on the W train at 59th St/Lexington during evening rush hour without any bags and carrying nothing. I was standing right by the door and I got a bad feeling about him as he got on, especially seeing the sideways glance a middle school age girl was giving him as she backed away from him and moved onto the train. I didn’t think he’d be able to get one past me so I carried on, reading my book and keeping a sideways glance on him.
The car was packed and he was so sly–inching closer and closer as I silently questioned if he was too close. His face was getting all contorted and he was breathing weird but out of the corner of my eye I could see that his face and torso were facing forward, so it didn’t appear he was pressing himself up against me. But I’m wondering where his body is and so I look down to see how he is turned and I see his big giant erection. This is when I flip out and start shoving him and hitting him away from me, pushing myself to the other side of him and shouting YOU FUCKING PERVERT GET THE FUCK OFF ME. I have always been prepared to be very loud and vocal if this happened to me and so I said very loudly “THIS FUCKING CREEP IS RUBBING HIMSELF UP AGAINST ME, THIS FUCKING PERVERT.”
I don’t think anyone flinched. The doors opened and without turning around to look at me he sheepishly crawled off the train like a fucking animal on a full moon. One woman did applaud my having vocally publicized the violation but I didn’t feel I had done enough. Incredible how someone can commit a sexual assault and leave the situation with the victim feeling as if they had done something wrong. There are some very sick and diseased souls in this city and I can only hope that this experience will allow me to help another victim cope in the future. I knew about Holla Back NYC before the assault but I honestly was so shaken up that I couldn’t collect my senses enough to take a photo or try to follow him and call the police. I just wonder what he did on the platform before he got on, and where he went next.
Submitted by Sarah