Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Press Release: Awareness campaign sexual harassment/assaults on MBTA

Press Release

April 7, 2014
STOP Sexual harassment/assaults on MBTA

The Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, Fenway Health, Hollaback! Boston and the MBTA announced participation in a transatlantic effort to call attention to, address, and effectively respond to sexual harassment that happens on public transit systems worldwide. Global Guardian expands on the Boston campaign that started in 2008 regarding sexual assault and harassment on the MBTA. In this first year of what is expected to be a growing annual effort; five police forces based in Boston, London, Vancouver and Washington, D.C. will participate in the operation. Press conference will be held on the South Station concourse at 1:30pm on Tuesday April 8, 2014.

According to Joseph O’Connor, Superintendent-in-Chief of the MBTA Transit Police, "The MBTA and the MBTA Transit Police take sexual harassment seriously and will identify, arrest, and assist in the prosecution of offenders. We want the community to feel comfortable letting us know what they are seeing and experiencing because with their help we can make a difference." Gina Scaramella from the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center pointed to the upskirting incident from a month ago as a great demonstration of how everyone has a role to play. "In that case, it was the riders who let the police know that they observed an offender taking upskirt photos of women on public transportation."

"We are glad that everyone involved in this initiative is supportive of addressing harassment and violence that is targeted specifically at LGBT people," said Cara Presley-Kimball of the Violence Recovery program at Fenway Health. "We recognize the need for victims and bystanders alike to be able to speak about their experiences to both law enforcement and with other members of the community, however they are most comfortable," said Kate Ziegler of Hollaback! Boston.

MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott, PhD said, "Strong community partnerships are an important part of our ongoing efforts to maintain a safe transit environment for all of our customers." Global Guardian aims to improve the levels of reporting and access to services among victims of sexual offences and to create an environment on public transport networks around the world which does not tolerate intimidation and sexual harassment.

Transit Police will be providing flyers to the riding public with information to download onto their phones and mobile devices on the MBTA this week during the Global Guardian week of awareness. Joseph O’Connor, Superintendent-in-Chief of the MBTA Transit Police added, "We are heartened to see transit systems around the globe following Boston’s lead."

media inquiries should be directed to tpdnews@mbta.com