One In Three Women and One in Ten Men Have Experienced Sexual Harassment On Public Transport

According to the survey conducted for the government by the Focus agency, around one in three women in the Czech Republic has experienced sexual harassment while traveling by public transport. One in ten men responding to the survey had the same experience. Photo Credit: KK _ BD / Illustrative Photo.

Czech Rep., Aug 27 (BD) –  According to a survey conducted for the government by the Focus agency, 35% of women and 10% of men in the Czech Republic have been victims of sexual harassment on public transport. A quarter of all those surveyed knew someone who had experienced harassment, and the same proportion had witnessed harassment while traveling. The survey was conducted with 1,009 people over the age of 15 from all over the country in April and May.

According to České noviny, respondents mentioned staring and leering glances, inappropriate invasion of personal space, catcalling, inappropriate remarks and suggestive comments, sexual gestures and movements, obstruction of movement and disembarking, exhibitionism, unwanted touching and kissing, or attempts to force sexual contact.

“For the first time, we have data that describe the experience of the Czech public with sexual harassment on public transport. We focused on an area that previous research on sexual harassment in the Czech Republic has not yet addressed. It turned out that every fourth woman does not feel safe because of sexual harassment in public transport,” said Helena Válková, the government’s human rights commissioner.

“From other cross-EU studies, we can see that overall sexual harassment occurs relatively often in the Czech Republic, we are slightly above average,” said Radan Šafařík, head of the Government Office for Gender Equality. “Along with other Eastern European countries, we have a gap in that a large part of the public is still unaware of the seriousness of the problem, and downplays it. Part of the public still finds it acceptable, especially some milder forms of sexual harassment.”

Harassment was experienced more by women. Almost three-fifths of women mentioned staring and unsolicited invasion of personal space, a quarter reported seeing someone masturbating on public transport, and seven percent had experienced an attempted rape. “If we transfer these figures to the whole population, it is a relatively big problem,” said Šafařík.

According to the survey, a third of those who witnessed such behaviour did not intervene in any way. According to Válková, fellow passengers do not know how to react. Válková and Šafařík agreed that it is necessary to improve education and prevention, including in schools. They hope to use the data collected from this and other surveys to formulate new policies to help reduce sexual harassment and improve safety for public transport users.

According to the respondents, measures which could help improve the situation include buttons to call for help, more frequent checks from police officers during journeys, or training of drivers to be able to recognize harassment and intervene. In the coming years, approximately CZK 20 million from Norwegian funds will go to projects to improve safety on transport, and support will also come from EU subsidies, said Šafařík.

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