Thursday, 5 September 2013

Passengers who have been harassed should lodge complaints

Incidents of sexual harassment on public transport are commonplace, although many still go unreported.

Packed buses and trains are said to be a contributing factor, with most cases happening during peak hours.

Although victims have been urged to come forward to lodge complaints so that action can be taken, many feel powerless and accept it as part and parcel of using public transport.

A random survey by StarMetro in the Puchong, Damansara and Kuala Lumpur areas showed that many women passengers have experienced some form of harassment.

Tales of harassment

Ria, 24, a postgraduate student at a local university, recounted an incident several months ago where a male passenger sitting beside her kept edging closer.

“I felt uneasy and quickly moved to another seat. Now, I drive so I do not need to worry about getting molested,’’ she said.

A victim, who only wanted to be known as Janet, said a man literally held onto her buttocks when she was travelling back home in the bus.

“I felt so angry and wanted to move away but I could not because the bus was packed.

“I did not do anything, fearing the man might follow me home as I live alone.

“I still feel I should have punched his face,” said Janet when recalling the incident.

She also told of another incident a foreigner grabbed her hand repeatedly for no reason when she was on board a bus going home from work.

Atirah Husna, 23, a student from Terengganu who used the public transport during her internship, had a different experience.

“I was travelling on the LRT when I saw a foreign couple kissing and making out in full view of other passengers. Such behaviour is unacceptable because it makes other passengers uncomfortable and I feel that the authorities should intervene,’’ she said.

Most victims of harassment do not lodge reports, neither with the transport company nor the police.

Prasarana statistics show that up to Aug 31, a total of 120 cases comprising various crimes such as sexual harassment, molestation, vandalism, fights and theft on public transport had been recorded.

However, only 67 cases were officially reported to the police.

“It is just too embarrassing and what can they do?” asked one victim.

Lodge a report

Syarikat Prasarana Negara Berhad urges public transport users to come forward with details of such incidents.

“We want to ensure that public transport is safe. We can only take the necessary action if a report is lodged,” said Prasarana Group communication and strategic marketing department executive vice-president Lim Jin Aun.

Public transport users are also requested to take down details of the incidents and the offenders.

“They should note details such as tattoos, scars, their speech and complexion.

“These will help us identify the suspect,” said Prasarana Security, safety, health and environment department head Tomin Salikan.

Kuala Lumpur CID chief Datuk Ku Chin Wah also urged victims to lodge reports.

“Only then can the case be investigated. I also advise those being harassed to shout out loud and reprimand the offender.

“It alerts other passengers and the culprit will be too embarrassed to proceed further,’’ he said.

Ku called on other passengers to help detain the suspect and be willing to act as witnesses.

“However, sometimes it is rather difficult to prove subtle acts. The best defence is self defence,’’ he added.


Several transport companies have taken proactive measures.

Many are aware of KTM Berhad’s women-only coaches to ensure the safety of female passengers.

However, there have been complaints that men are not adhering to this by continuing to use the female compartments.

Prasarana also provides buses to areas such as Puchong Utama, Sri Nilam Hub and Subang Suria Hub for female passengers during peak hours.

However, many say the frequency of the buses should be increased as 60% of public transport users are women, based on a Prasarana study.


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