More light and video surveillance against sexual harassment in public transport

TMB studies measures such as a musical thread in the subway to generate a more pleasant atmosphere

Light, video surveillance, more police presence or a musical thread to create a more pleasant atmosphere in the metro. These are some of the measures being studied by Barcelona Transport Authority (TMB) in the  plan against gender-based harassment that is being prepared together with the Barcelona Provincial Council and feminist groups. The plan is expected to be completed in March and aims to make public transport a safer space for women, especially considering that they account for 60% of users and that, out of public spaces, buses and tubes are where most harassment takes place. The president of TMB and Barcelona's Mobility Councillor, Rosa Alarcón, said at a press conference today that the project, still at an "early stage", envisages measures such as improving the lighting on platforms and corridors and "even incorporating a musical thread to create a friendlier atmosphere" in the metro. It also plans to increase police presence and surveillance, and to create a specific system of video cameras inside the convoys.

As for the changes that could be introduced in the bus network, there is also an increase in security and the specific video surveillance system. A further measure would be to extend on-demand buses to all neighbourhoods, after the successful trial in Torre Baró. Bus shelters' visisbility is also to be improved.

In addition to the more physical changes, an awareness campaign is also planned, both in the metro and on buses, to highlight the fact that there are many types of sexual harassment, not only those punishable by criminal law. These would include as lewd and intimidating insinuations or repeated gestures. There will also be specific training for company professionals to detect and prevent sexual harassment, with action protocols and gender audits.

Metros and buses are the public space where women claim to suffer most often situations of harassment, according to the City Council's survey of male violence. In fact, one in five cases occurs in public transport. Taking into account these data and the fact that 60% of metro and bus users are women, TMB considers it necessary to have this prevention plan.

Decalogue for prevention

The President of the Social Cohesion, Citizenship and Welfare area of the Provincial Council, Lluïsa Moret, explained that a document is being penned on situations of sexual harassment not provided for in the Criminal Code, such as verbal and non-verbal behaviour and physical or sexual behaviour, which normally constitute an administrative sanction. The document summarises in a decalogue the commitments made by TMB to try to eradicate these behaviours, which range from adopting measures to avoid any form of discrimination to expressing disapproval of "lewd or intimidating gestures, looks and insinuations" between users, or "active listening" to all women who feel under siege.

"We are immersed in the fight against the geography of fear, according to which women everywhere are self-censoring when using spaces because they are afraid. We want to work to achieve freedom for the citizens of Barcelona and these eleven municipalities [where TMB provides services] and that the action does not remain only within TMB but that it is an experience that can be translated into other territorial realities," said Moret.

The company and the Provincial Council have not ruled out the possibility that at some point repeat offenders may be prevented from entering, despite the fact that they have made it clear that this is a matter "for a judge" to decide and that, for the moment, it is not provided for in the protocol. At this point, these people would receive an administrative sanction.

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