Last month the government in Central Jakarta, India, segregated people by sex in the bus stop lines to curb crime, including sexual harassment. Today I read a news article about a case of sexual assault on the bus because, unsurprisingly, segregating people without addressing the real issue will not solve the problem!
“The criminal sat beside the victim. At a time, the criminal touched the victim’s breast. The victim screamed and slapped the criminal on his face.
“The incident took place in Tosari. Both of them were stopped in Dukuhatas and then taken to South Jakarta Police Precinct,” said Dano, Tuesday (7/6). In fact, besides separating passengers based on gender, the bus attendant always reminded the passengers to place themselves on empty spaces. To make the passengers comfortable, Transjakarta BLU will set stickers about safety way in the bus.”
I’m sure a reminder to sit in empty spaces is really useful…not. The harasser won’t listen and the harassee probably already did that. I think women instinctively know we’re in for trouble when it’s a largely empty bus or subway car and a man plops himself down right next to us. And sometime when we move, they do, too. Harassing behavior like that is scary and predatory.
What seems to be hard for these men to understand is that they do not have a right to our space and to our bodies just because we’re women living in patriarchal societies. That kind of assumption needs to change! Incidentally, the International Center for Research on Women has an initiative in India focused on changing those assumptions in boys and so far it’s been very successful. Hopefully in time it can spread across all of India!