Sexual Harrassment on Muni

Reanna's picture

Years ago, my sister stood on a packed MUNI bus to go home. While she was standing, she was sexually harrassed by another passenger. Being that this was a crowded bus, nobody but my sister and perpetrator were aware of what happened. My sister, afraid of the consequences of speaking up, decided to remain silent and get off as soon as she arrived at her stop.

In middle school, I sat in the back of the 30 Stockton where passenger seats are facing each other rather than facing forward. As soon as I sat down, I saw the man sitting across from me pull his penis out and start masturbating right in front of me. Like my sister, I said nothing and immediately got off the bus.

Last week, my mom was taking a crowded 9 line and sat in the seniors/disabled persons section. She sat in between two men who were obviously neither seniors nor disabled. While my mom was sitting, one man put his hand behind my mom and pinched her butt twice. Meanwhile, the man on the other side incessantly nudged my mom's leg with his leg. The week before, my mom's friend was beaten while trying to stand up for herself. Because of this, my mom was too afraid to speak up against these guys.

Because of these past experiences,  I would like to encourage anyone who may experience any type of harrassment while on Muni with other people to speak up about it.

With that said, what can we do to make the ride on Muni safer? What can we do to encourage people to speak up for themselves? 

CJC's picture

Collective Action Problem

Reanna, First of all I am sorry to hear that you and those close to you have all suffered from the vile behavior of fellow public transport users. There are several things that can be done to make public transport safer. One way is to include CCTV cameras on public transport. This not only makes it easier to prosecute abusers but also acts as a deterrent. However, many people don't like the idea of mass CCTV to protect public safety. There are other ways such as ticket inspectors, good reporting systems etc. But I think you are right when you identify the real solution as public solidarity against this kind of crime. 99.9% of these people are united in disgust of sexual abuse. However, not all these people are willing to act. People are afraid to speak up because they are intimidated. Nobody likes to stand out from the crowd in these situations. It is a collective action problem. However, if we create a culture of public intervention, then people can be sure that if they do speak out that they will have the support of others around them. We live in an increasingly alienated society, even in our busiest cities. I implore everyone to be brave and speak out together so that we can defeat this monsterous minority and so that those who do, like Reanna's Mum's friend, are not endangered.

Paid for by Phil Ting for Assembly 2012. FPPC ID# 1343137