The case of a fatal bus rape in India, and subsequent protests, has captivated the world. But, argues Sarah Goodyear, the incident should serve as a larger reminder of the threat of violence and harassment towards women on transit systems worldwide.
As shocking as the reports of the gang rape, and murder, of a 23-year-old woman aboard a bus in New Delhi have been, incidents of violence and sexual harassment of women are commonplace on public transit systems around the world. And, as Goodyear notes, the United States is not immune. The rape of a developmentally disabled woman on a public bus in Los Angeles in November, during broad daylight, "briefly made headlines, then disappeared into the rear-view mirror as the news cycle sped along." It was the third rape in the county bus system last year, noted Goodyear.
Why don't "the countless examples of sexual harassment women encounter on transit – groping, exposure, public masturbation, and the like," that occur in cities around the world trigger the kind of public response that occured recently in India?
In Los Angeles, at least, says Goodyear, "the rape was symptomatic of the disregard most people in the autocentric city show to transit riders, especially women."
“'While I’m shocked, because it’s an appalling thing, I can see it happening,' said Browne Molyneux, the editor and publisher of The Morningside Park Chronicle, a community newspaper serving the city’s Ingleside neighborhood. 'If you ride the bus, you’re not worth anything. The attitude is that people who ride the bus aren’t real people, so why should you care about them?'”
"Molyneux says that in L.A., more value needs to be put on the safety of women who ride the transit system. 'They’re planning for graffiti and trash,' she says. 'They should plan for people’s safety as well.'"
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