Sex fiends on public transport targeted

Sex fiends on public transport targeted

A papier-mache doll in the shape of a woman points her fist bearing the #Team Phuek (meddlesome) hashtag to Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith. The doll was presented by women's rights advocates, who urge the ministry to help people harassed on public transport.  Apichart Jinakul
A papier-mache doll in the shape of a woman points her fist bearing the #Team Phuek (meddlesome) hashtag to Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith. The doll was presented by women's rights advocates, who urge the ministry to help people harassed on public transport.  Apichart Jinakul

A group is pressuring the Transport Ministry to install CCTV cameras in all public transport to protect people from sexual harassment.

The Safe Cities for Women Network has asked the ministry to create a dedicated channel for receiving complaints or reports of abuse.

Four non-governmental organisations (NGOs) under the Safe Cities for Women Network's umbrella made their way to the ministry to submit three proposals to strengthen safety policies on public transportation.

Under the proposal, the network requested that core public transportation service providers such as the Bangkok Mass Transit Authority (BMTA) and the country's taxi service should give its workers mandatory training regarding the treatment of passengers and sexual harassment.

Based on research by the Safe Cities for Women Network, up to 35% of 1,654 people surveyed said they have been sexually harassed before while 52% of that number also stated that harassment had taken place within the past 12 months, which indicates this continues to be an on-going problem in the country.

"A total of 14 modes of transportation were linked to sexual harassment based on our survey, but what is more concerning is that 50% of these cases occur in public buses," said Women's Wellbeing and Gender Justice Programme manager Varaporn Chamsanit.

"Our survey was conducted randomly without selecting half men and women. Given that information, 45% of the women we interviewed said that they have been sexually harassed before and this is also a major concern from our findings."

The campaigners, who ask for public intervention when they see such harassment in public transport, said sometimes transport staff were found to have been harassed.

Director of the Women and Men Progressive Movement Foundation, Jadet Chaowilai, said, "We think it is also important to consider that we have found both suspects and victims of harassment from staff members on duty, and this reflects the necessity to consider the proposal of creating training programs regarding this issue." Transport Minister Arkhom Termpittayapaisith admits said safety standards in public transportation still require a lot of work.

"Public transport is an integral part of Thai society, and I have not seen significant change since I was a kid riding the bus into the city from outside Bangkok," Mr Arkhom said.

"We must be consistent with our efforts in tackling sexual harassment, or else it will persist."

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