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We’re excited to announce that we have been working with TfL and British Transport Police on Project Guardian, a groundbreaking campaign to address and change how unwanted sexual behaviour that happens on their networks is dealt with. This includes tubes, overground trains and buses. Today they went public in the Guardian and so after months of confidentiality we can finally talk about it!
Join the twitter discussion over at #ProjGuardian - Media enquiries – email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Along with other women’s organisations, we have acted as a ‘critical friend’ to the working group, sitting on the advisory board alongside the End Violence Against Women Coalition and Everyday Sexism, helping to steer the project in the right direction. We’re honoured to be working so closely on such a game-changing piece of work.
While not all harassment is a crime under law, Project Guardian will encourage the reporting of every incident that contributes to the culture of fear faced by women and LGBTQ people, to get a real sense of the scale of the problem, so they can formulate policy based on lived experience. Research has been commissioned that involves real people, to get a better sense of what the barriers are. Again, this is hugely significant coming from an institution not exactly always applauded for believing victims. Project Guardian also sees the police acknowledging that this campaign will undoubtedly see the crime stats rocket as confidence in reporting increases, but the consequences of the latter make the inevitable ‘crime goes up’ headlines worth it.
Specific training on unwanted sexual behaviour has now been delivered to every single officer serving on the transport system (over 2000) and is being rolled out not only to TfL staff but to the employees of contracted bus services, encouraging them to play an active role in helping combat unwanted sexual behaviour on their buses.
We were unsure initially about engaging with the project due to our desire to remain independent both as activists and as a source of support that doesn’t tell people who experience harassment what they ‘should’ do. However, having met with the people working on the project, we have been repeatedly pleasantly surprised with how far-reaching and well-researched the rationale behind Project Guardian is. Ultimately we saw this as an opportunity to engage with law enforcement and transport authorities in a productive way, taking our years of learning and the voices on this site, and using them to influence and improve the city we live in.
The Project is ongoing and we will be updating you with regular bulletins about our work in helping to shape this.
New submission from Cookie
I was trying to get to the job centre on my bike and didn’t know the area well so I stopped by Stockwell station to ask the fruit vendor for directions. The person kept ignoring me so I went to ask 2 men who I thought would be friendly since they were wearing their bus driver uniforms.
I asked them for directions to the stockwell job centre and then one of them said: Oh I can give you a job.
But in that dirty gross way.
I was just shocked and biked off.
New submission from Alex
I was walking out of my local newsagent on Sunday night when the local bus pulled up at the bus stop opposite. I heard a hoot and an ‘oi’ and laughing and thought oh well whatever…and carried on walking. The bus then pulled away and as it swung past me the driver hooted 3 times and he waved thinking it was really funny. Everyone on the bus was looking at me as were people in the street. I looked angry and mouthed ‘what the hell’ at him but it made him laugh even more. I really hate it when the more you show your disapprovement the more harassers think it’s great fun. I called TFL this morning to lodge a complaint. They said that they can record the complaint and follow it up but that they can’t get back to you as to whether they had a word with the driver, or the outcome of the investigation. It makes you feel like your complaint goes into a black hole…
New submission from Victoria
I was on the 38 bus when a guy sat came and say next to me not long after leaving Victoria station, I found it a little odd as the bus wasn’t too busy but I was sitting at the front on the top deck so figured he might be a tourist and wanted the ‘driving seat’. He started reading an newspaper and all seemed fine. A while into the journey, near Piccadilly circus he started shuffling about with his hand nearest me (still holding the paper) and brushing against my side. I started to think he was a pick pocket so pulled my bag towards me on my lap. This shuffling continued and then he reached out and touched my breast. I was really shocked and questioned him about it to which he just smiled at me, I then stood up and let him, and all the other passengers know exactly what sort of creepy dude he was. He went downstairs and got off at the next stop. Initially I was really shaken and just sat down but at my stop spoke to the driver, who was really supportive and gave me all the bus details to get the security footage to the police. I called the 101 number and the police came to my house this evening and totally surprised me with how seriously they took the situation. Obviously I don’t know what will come of it as yet but strongly urge anyone experiencing situations like this to contact the police, I felt so much better knowing they were as disgusted by this behaviour as I and with the combo of CCTV and being able to trace travel cards perhaps he will be caught. Also this kind of behaviour is a crime and you should have no doubt in that fact.
New submission from bee
I walking past Bayswater tube station at 10.19pm on Saturday 30th June when a man in a dark leather jacket and longish hair and glasses said “Nice tits” into my ear. He was maybe a little younger than my own father, about late 40s to 50s. I was wearing black trousers and a tee and blazer and had little make-up and berkinstocks. Didn’t say anything but watched him walk away without looking back to see me, so I ran after him and took his photo as he got on the tube. It made me feel degraded and like I shouldn’t have been feeling sexy in my outfit and worried about going out looking good. I wanted to yell “oi Nice Tits! You’re old enough to be my Dad, you pervert!” but I felt that would put my safety in jeopardy. Not yelling or reacting to it because of my fear made me feel powerless and angry. Spoke to my boyfriend about it and had a cry and a cuddle when I got home. I wish it was dealt with by the police sometimes because it’s disgusting.
New submission from Hannah
This happened some time back but it still upsets me to remember it.
I was in a crowded tube train at rush hour. A man, short and plump, pressed up against me and he had an erection. I could feel him pushing it into my backside and I couldn’t get away. This went on for several minutes, until the train stopped and he jumped off. He was wearing black jogging bottoms and I saw him walking off with a newspaper in front of his crotch to conceal his erection.
I wish I had done something at the time to make him stop and draw attention to his harassment. At the time, I felt trapped and frightened. I also had a strange feeling of being under his control and that he had power over me. That was probably the worst thing of all.
New submission from Jo
I’d just finished work and was waiting on the Northern Line platform at Warren Street station. The tube arrived and I waited for the doors to open. The platform wasn’t busy and there was only me trying to get on the tube via my chosen doors. There was a man, maybe 35-40, on the tube, staring out the window at me. I fleetingly thought about moving to another carriage but I quite enjoy pushing past a starer and knocking him with my bag full of books. So I stayed put. The doors slid open and the man was stood there with his flies down, exposing himself at my eye level. Grim. I had a slightly delayed reaction and had already embarked the train. I was really shocked, and pretty revolted, and didn’t really know what to do, so I moved into the centre of the carriage away from him. As I moved past him, he followed me with his hips, pointing his TINY penis at me and grinning. I muttered, ‘What the fuck is wrong with you?’ and he didn’t reply but started thrusting his hips. Weirdly, no one else reacted. All the seats were full, there was even a man stood next to him. And no one behaved like this was at all weird!
New submission from Anna
My friend and I were stood chatting in the aisle of the tube, between the seats. I felt something on the back of my leg and thought it must just be some one knocking me by accident but it happened again. And again. I moved out of the way, it happened again. I looked down and a man was deliberately rubbing his foot up and down the back of my knee. I stared at him as some seats opposite him became avialable. I carried on chatting as normal with my friend but out of the corner of my eye watched this man’s behaviour. he was alternately staring at us, trying to touch and intimidate the women either side of him (one of whom was almost on the floor, she was so far out of her seat!), touching my feet across the aisle, leering at us and generally behaving very strangely. I gauged the situation and considered the possibility that he might punch me before leaning over and saying loudly and clearly “ARE YOU DRUNK OR ARE YOU A CREEP, OR BOTH?” old touchy feely is a bit confused and shocked so I repeat; “ARE YOU DRUNK OR ARE YOU A CREEP OR BOTH? YOU ARE INVADING WOMEN’S PERSONAL SPACE AND MAKING PEOPLE FEEL UNCOMFORTABLE AND IT IS NOT ACCEPTABLE (more garbled shock and confusion from him).” I stared at him and lent into the aisle, mimicking him. At this point it looked as if he might cry! “IT ISNT NICE BEING STARED AT IS IT? IT ISNT NICE BEING TOUCHED AND YOUR PERSONAL SPACE ENCROACHED ON IS IT? ARE YOU UNCOMFORTABLE? GOOD, BECAUSE SO WERE WE.” I stopped at this point and he just burbled apologies claiming he didnt know what i was talking about or glanced shiftily around. I continued to stare at him, watching him squirm. He apologised and I said that I hoped that in future he would think about how his behaviour made women feel. Thankfully he got off the train a couple of stops later, I was beginning to worry I would have to keep up my bravado until Morden!! The woman across the aisle thanked me and said she didnt know how to deal with it. Nor did I but I’m glad I did what I did and didnt just ignore yet another experience of street (or tube!) harassment.
Happy International Women’s Day!
I would have written this earlier, as it happened in the early summer, but had no idea Hollaback London existed! I am familiar with the DC site, as I lived in DC for a short time and sadly, street harassment seems to be the same there and here in London.
About 5:30 on the Piccadilly Line home from uni, I sat across from a man who at one glance seemed to be drunk, with a beer in his hand, just leering. I mind my own business and keep my headphones on usually on the Tube and buses and put on that look of ‘don’t bother me, creepy men!’. Nearly as soon as I sat down, the man across said something to me mumbled, but I didn’t really hear-though he was staring at my feet. It was a warm day and I had on flip-flops–so risque! I could tell the man kept trying to say something to me and soon enough I heard him ask if he could TOUCH MY FEET. And immediately after he said that, he reached to grab them. I yanked them away as the others in the seats near us looked a bit weirded out by the man. I said quite clearly to him ‘Don’t you f***ing touch me’. He kept talking about my feet, I put my headphones back on though and gave the death stare, but had to wait until the next stop to get up. I got out of that carriage and into one at the opposite end of the train, and luckily he didn’t follow.
But, with the street harassment I deal with from creeps, I’ve never had anyone on the tube at rush hour try to touch my feet
I was walking to Leyton Tube station at 7:30 a.m. and passed by the King Harold pub, which has scaffolding set up on it. (I want to mention the King Harold is my local, and I’m not blaming the pub for what happened – it’s a great pub. But I wanted to let anyone local know where to watch out for this perv).
Under the scaffolding, against the pub wall, between two metal pillars, was a guy who looked fairly cleanly but grubbily dressed (i.e., not homeless), whose hand, I noticed, was hovering a little bit below his waist.
Okay, I thought, a little uncouth – until I realised that HIS FLY WAS UNZIPPED AND HE WAS MASTURBATING.
First of all, it was freezing cold – who the hell whips it out when it’s -2 degrees? But that’s beside the point. This was a busy main road, with lots of people – including women – passing by on their way to and from work. And he wasn’t even trying to hide it – it was obviously some form of exhibitionism, and all female passers-by were probably part of the enjoyment for him. I felt disgusting.
So I reached for my phone to call the cops, knowing it would be useless because he wasn’t in a confined space, so he could leave at any time … but of course, I picked this day to leave my phone at home.
I considered talking to the staff at the Tube station, letting them know this was going on a few blocks away and that I wasn’t able to call the police, but if they thought it was a valid problem, they should – but the station was fairly busy, and I didn’t know if they’d pay any attention.
So I did nothing. And I feel crappy about that. But I’m not sure what other options I had – even if I’d had my phone, this guy would have probably gotten away with it. But I feel vaguely violated and skeeved out by the whole experien