Chicago’s Transit Changes Policies Due to Women Activists

Thanks to the efforts of the Rogers Park Young Women’s Action Team (YWAT) who have been documenting the high rates of sexual harassment on public transportation in Chicago, the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) is expanding its policies on how bus and rail operators deal with harassers. The YWAT surveyed 639 CTA riders and found that half had been sexually harassed on the system and 13 percent had been assaulted.

From the Chicago Sun Times (where the article is a homepage feature!):

“Before, if a customer felt she was being threatened or harassed by another passenger, the operator may just decide to ‘keep an eye’ on the situation, or tell the offender to move, or call the Control Center if they felt the situation needed an immediate response, according to Amy Kovalan, CTA’s senior vice president of safety, security and risk compliance.

‘Now, operators are instructed to ask an offending individual to stop the behavior,’ Kovalan said. ‘If that person does not cease, the operator immediately will call the Control Center and will be instructed on how to proceed.’ The rule applies to any kind of harassment — not just sexual.

The CTA also is updating its public safety tips brochure to include information about harassment, and how to report it.

In addition, the CTA is expanding its ‘If you see something, say something’ posters and audio announcements to include sexual harassment. Harassment complaints to the CTA customer service line will now have a special code, so that the agency can better monitor the problem.

YWAT just came out with their survey a few weeks ago, so to have the CTA already respond with changes is huge!! Congratulations to the YWAT. I said it before, and I’ll say it again: I really admire them and their work!

I also think this is very encouraging for people who live in other areas where there are high rates of harassment on public transportation but little being done to address it. A group of individuals can make a difference!


One Response to Chicago’s Transit Changes Policies Due to Women Activists

  1. Margaret says:

    That’s very encouraging. Maybe something similar happened in Vancouver? I used to live in Edmonton, and I was harassed almost daily when I lived there. I’ve been in Vancouver for six months, and I’ve been harassed twice in the time I’ve been here. It’s a nice change of pace.

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