In light of the increasing number of women who have been sexually harassed while commuting on the LRT in recent years, Prasarana is taking steps to assure the public that they are taking such incidents seriously
With the rise of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements spurring women worldwide to speak out against sexual abuse, victims are mobilising social media and traction from mainstream media to share their traumatic experiences of being sexually assaulted or harassed, even those that may have happened years ago.
In Malaysia, several such cases have been highlighted on social media and subsequently, on the news.
The public transport operator actually has a Special Action Team (SAT) made up of auxiliary police officers who are dedicated to investigate sexual harassment reports. In addition, they are also authorised to arrest suspects.
Just over a week ago, on 24 February, two plainclothes members of the SAT finally arrested a 31-year-old suspect who allegedly rubbed his genitals against a female commuter at the Masjid Jamek LRT station in December last year.
The special team's existence was also highlighted by Facebook user Elycia Sang, whose recent experience with being sexually harassed while commuting caught Prasarana's attention after she live-tweeted the "traumatising" incident.
In 2017, it was reported that the task force successfully apprehended 21 out of 22 suspects involved in sexual harassment incidents reported to them last year
According to a spokesperson from Prasarana, most of the suspects were caught within several days after the incidents were reported.
"One of the key learnings from these incidents was that the people who were harassed reported the incidents to our Auxiliary Police at the earliest opportunity, and worked closely with us to apprehend the suspects," said Lim Jin Aun, Head of Group Communications and Strategic Marketing for Prasarana.
How does one report an incident of sexual harassment?
Aside from approaching a stations operations officer or a member of the Auxiliary Police team on site, you can also make a report via WhatsApp to +6010-766 4472 (for incidents that happened on the train) and +60 19-791 4472 (on the bus). You can also contact them via Twitter @RapidKL or Facebook (Rapid KL).
Even if you are not a victim, you can also make a report if you witnessed the incident.
When filing a report, you should also include the following to help them identify the suspect as soon as possible: -
• Train number;
• Time and location of of the harassment; and
• Photos and/or videos of the perpetrator and/or incident, if any.
Do note that you don't necessarily have to be a victim to file a report. You can also do so if you witnessed an incident of sexual harassment. Here's what to look out for:
In Malaysia, sexual harassment is legally defined as "any unwanted conduct of sexual nature, whether verbal, non-verbal, visual, gestural or physical, directed at a person which is offensive or humiliating or is a threat to their well-being."
(i) Inappropriate touching and/or bodily contact, such as rubbing or brushing against the body, pinching etc.;
(ii) Licking lips;
(iii) Leering or ogling with suggestive overtones;
(iv) Offensive remarks;
(v) Unwanted persistent and repeated proposals; and
(vi) Kissing sounds.
Share this information with your female (and male) friends who often take public transportation. Be observant, be vocal, be brave... 'coz we all have a part to play in creating a safe commute environment for all. :)