Reports of sex crimes against female subway riders surged an alarming 28 percent in 2016, according to NYPD figures. The statistics include complaints of public lewdness, unwanted touching and the taking of inappropriate videos or photos.
Perhaps it’s time for the MTA to follow the example of Brazil, Japan and India and designate women-only subway cars.
As a father of two girls and a husband, the safety of women is something I’m sensitive to.
A month ago, I was on the subway in Brooklyn when a female passenger suddenly shouted at a male rider. She accused him of taking pictures of her with his cellphone. An undercover cop on the subway car ushered the man off.
Unwanted photo-taking is, according to NYPD figures, among the crimes women have inceasingly reported to the police. The statistics released by Transit Division Assistant Chief Vincent Coogan, which cover mid-December 2015 to mid-December 2016, showed an increase in reported offenses from 713 to 913.
The rise, police say, is due in part to extra NYPD efforts to encourage women to come forward and report crimes. So, it seems the numbers were always probably high.
Transportation agencies elsewhere are already taking pains to protect their female passengers. In light of groping incidents, Air India, that country’s national airline, recently said it will designate two rows on every flight for female passengers.
There has been a spate of gang rapes in the last two years in India, and the country has segregated train carriages and buses, and designated pink female-only auto-rickshaws in two cities near Delhi.
Of all types of mass transportation, though, the NYC subway system seems particularly vulnerable for assaults because of the close quarters passengers find themselves in during rush hour. It’s impossible to say to someone, “Don’t stand so close to me,” when riders are crammed behind closed doors and passengers, with arms pinned to their sides, are powerless to defend themselves.
Pink subway cars for female riders? Why not?
Jeff Vasishta lives in Crown Heights.