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“Grope Patrol” in Boston Curbs Sexual Harassment on the Subway

May 22, 2008 11:37 AM
by Isabel Cowles
Boston police have started a new initiative to keep subway gropers in check: posters and undercover cops called the “grope patrol” are now fixtures on the “T.”

30-Second Summary

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Police in Boston have started a new initiative aimed at preventing sexual harassment in the subway. NPR reports that Boston officials have “plastered subway cars with nearly a thousand signs urging victims to speak out—and warning potential predators that they are being watched by cameras.”

In addition, the Boston police have set up the “grope patrol,” a group of undercover officers who ride the subways with an eye-out for inappropriate touching.

According to transit officials, women “usually don’t report groping incidents because they’re embarrassed and don't believe it will have any effect.”

A New York City survey published last summer suggests that there’s some validity to these statements. The Office of the Manhattan Borough President, Scott M. Stringer conducted an online survey where 9 out of 10 victims of subway harassment admitted to not reporting the incident. However, the Wall Street Journal criticized the survey’s methodology.

Dramatic measures have been taken in other countries to help deter sexual harassment on public transportation. In Mexico City, women can now ride segregated buses. In Japan, a new cell phone application allows women to send warning messages to sexual predators.

Some believe these measures to be extreme. “Bare legs, short skirts and plunging necklines” may encourage harassers, noted one male blogger, in response to last summer’s New York survey.

Other independent organizations have taken matters into their own hands. A group of Web sites known as “Holla Backs” encourages women to send in photos of their harassers.

Headline Link: ‘Boston puts the squeeze on subway gropers’

Background: Sexual harassment on public transportation

Opinion & Analysis: What’s the best way to reduce sexual harassment?

Related Topic: Urban dwellers create their own antiharassment measures

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