Sex Crimes on Public Transit: Underreported?
Photo by Alfredo Mendez
BART, the San Francisco Municipal Railway and Alameda-Contra Costa Transit together had 370 million riders last year on buses, trains and trolleys that cover San Francisco, the East Bay and beyond. The police documented 95 sex crimes on those three public transit systems, including 35 cases of indecent exposure, often masturbation; 25 cases of sexual battery, which includes groping; one rape; and other unwanted lewd behavior. Forty arrests were made.
Those numbers are surprisingly low given the ridership, said Anastasia Loukaitou-Sideris, associate dean at the University of California, Los Angeles, Luskin School of Public Affairs, who has studied sex crimes on public transit. The actual number of sex crimes on public transit is most likely much higher, she said.
Twice now I have been on the 49-Van Ness when a male passenger boards the bus, sits very close to me, and “falls asleep” with his arm on my hip bone. At first you want to think it’s just an accident, then it becomes totally infuriating and frustrating.
If you’re a regular reader of Muni Diaries, you know that incidents like this are not isolated. In 2009, a reader wrote us about a man on the N-Judah whom she called the “Muni humper.” A commenter then submitted a photo of the suspect. The SFPD contacted us and initiated an investigation, which later led to the arrest of the so-called Muni humper. (see our full story).
But the creeps haven’t learned any lessons from the humper. Last year, reader Mel submitted a disturbing report of a man who was harassing young women on the T-Third (another reader submitted a police report based on the post).
Two months later reader Stella told us about a man on the 8X who was trying to cop a feel. “I’ve talked to people about this happening and they tell me not to start anything with the guy for my own safety in case he has a weapon or might follow me home. This infuriates me that I can’t do anything about it,” she told us in her story, Violated on the 8X.
Have you experienced sexual harassment on Muni or BART, and would you call out the perpetrator on the spot?