Nearly half of women suffer from sexual harassment on public transport in Shenzhen

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Research about the alarmingly high rate of sexual harassment on public transport in Shenzhen was recently released by well-known feminist organization 女权之声 (the Voice of Feminism). The organization managed to collect replies to 433 questionnaires. 33.9% of respondents claim to have suffered from sexual harassment on public transport, and the proportion of women victims was even higher, reaching 42%. The research’s statistics are divided into five parts: the demographic distribution of interviewees, the conditions, cognition and countermeasures of the sexual harassment on public transit, and the demands and expectations of the interviewees.

The most common forms of sexual harassment reported in the survey are teasing, eye contact, leering and pressing up in an excessive fashion. Excessive physical contact happens more often on buses, which are on average more crowded, while the other kinds of harassment are more common on the subway.

The questionnaire included a list of the various forms of sexual harassment you might encounter on public transport, and the interviewees were asked whether they thought these could be classified as sexual harassment or not. Forms of behaviour like offensive comments, whistling, and leering were only recognized as sexual harassment by a relatively small proportion of respondents. What’s more, there was no single option that was recognized as sexual harassment by more than 80% of the interviewees, indicating the need to spread basic awareness.

According to the study, the majority of the victims of sexual harassment reacted by scolding and resisting the offender. The proportion of victims seeking others’ help was low, and 47.2% chose not to speak up, simply grinning and bearing. When asked about the reasons for not seeking help, 63% of the interviewees replied that it is shameful to suffer from sexual harassment, and over half claimed they didn’t think it effective to ask for help. Nearly half of the interviewees explained that they were afraid of incurring in the harasser’s revenge.

Lastly, the questionnaire asked about expectations towards the relevant institutions. 98.4% of respondents thought it necessary for outside help to be provided. The most pressing need identified is for policemen and transport staff to intervene timely, and for the passengers present to provide help within their power. When it comes to how to prevent sexual harassment, most people replied that the legislation must be perfected and the law enforced strictly.

The Voice of Feminism concluded that the sexual harassment problem is severe, and there is a lack of public education and good systems to fight it. The issue cannot be solved by individuals, and requires government departments to cooperate to increase the public’s awareness, popularize countermeasures, encourage citizens to help each other, intervene timely and crack down on harassers. Only through these measures can the problem be relieved.