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Posted at 10:17 AM ET, 04/03/2012

Metro anti-sexual harassment campaign goes live


Metro has launched a campaign against rider harassment. What would your poster say? (Wmata.com)
For riders harassed on Metro, there’s now a live Web site that will allow customers to report incidents directly to Transit Police.

Riders can either use an e-mail address — harassment@wmata.com — or go directly to an online form that allows them to report the accidents.

New posters, fliers and handouts written in English and Spanish will also be distributed to riders, licensed without cost through the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.

The Post’s Dana Hedgpeth interviewed General Manager Richard Sarles about the development last week, and Sarles said it’s an initiative the transit agency will take seriously.

“We want people to know if they say something, it will be investigated,” Sarles said.

But Metro wasn’t initially quick to respond to complaints of harassment. The agency received harsh criticism in February for what some perceived to be a minimization of the problem.

“It really isn’t a big issue,” spokesman Dan Stessel said before a D.C. council hearing on the subject. “There are a minuscule number of incidents of actual crime.”

But some say the problem is far from minuscule, and Metro changed its tune by early March. Last week, Washington hosted the first International Anti-Street Harassment Week. Organizer Holly Kearly, the founder of Stop Street Harassment and author of a book by the same title, found that over 80 percent of women had been the target of sexually explicit comments or gestures.

“No country has achieved gender equality and no country ever will until women have the same access to public spaces and the same level of acceptance and safety in public spaces as men,” Kearly told the Root DC.

Metro will be working in partnership with Collective Action for Safe Spaces, which has expanded its educational offerings and collaborations with related agencies in recent months.

This post has been updated.

By  |  10:17 AM ET, 04/03/2012

Tags:  metro, street harassment

 
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