Saturday, May 26, 2012

London boys, keep your hands to yourself

Courtesy: The Guardian
At the Charing Cross station last night, a tall gangly teenager had the audacity to squeeze my bum on a crowded platform and walk on calmly. He probably looked like a hero to his friends because the girl in the group was giggling. I glowered at her and she quickly said, “It wasn’t me, it was him.”

Since she confirmed that and since a police officer descended the steps to the platform at that fortuitous moment I complained to him about the incident.

I had just finished telling him what happened when another young woman approached the officer to ask, “Was she telling you about that group?”, and proceeded to make a complaint of her own.

The police officer asked me, “Do you want me to give him a stiff warning or arrest him?”

An arrest seemed too harsh (although I had second thoughts about it during the entire train ride back home) so I just said that I just wanted him given a very severe warning. The other woman concurred.

Ironically on the same morning the Guardian carried a report on the findings of a YouGov survey in London commissioned by the End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW). In the last year 43% of women in London between the ages of 18 – 34 have experienced some form of sexual harassment in public spaces.

That sounds like an epidemic of harassment ranging from staring to more severe forms of violence. I was very happy to see that cop last night and he was also quite sensitive. London needs that kind of policing at night at a massive scale along with a huge public awareness campaign.

I’ve blogged about street sexual harassment in Southall, London before. You can read it here.