Re­ports of harass­ment surge

More than 800 in­ci­dents sub­mit­ted over past two years

Metro Canada (Ottawa) - - Ottawa - Ryan Tu­milty

Over 800 in­ci­dents of sex­ual harass­ment, leering, grop­ing and as­sault have been re­ported through OC Transpo’s on­line re­port­ing tool in the last two years.

The agency launched its Let OC Transpo Know cam­paign two years ago, al­low­ing peo­ple to re­port such harass­ment in­ci­dents — anony­mously, if they choose — us­ing a web tool.

Julie Lalonde, di­rec­tor of Hol­laback Ottawa, which en­cour­aged OC Transpo to launch the cam­paign, said it brings the prob­lem into stark re­lief for the tran­sit agency be­cause a lot of these is­sues were go­ing un­re­ported.

“They weren’t hear­ing about a lot of the stuff they are now see­ing. They weren’t hear­ing about women be­ing leered at. They weren’t hear­ing about women be­ing fol­lowed off the bus,” she said.

Coun. Stephen Blais, chair of the city’s tran­sit com­mis­sion, said the help from Hol­laback and other women’s groups en­sured that peo­ple felt more com­fort­able com­ing for­ward.

In a state­ment, he said cre­at­ing con­di­tions in which women can file re­ports with­out fear is a step for­ward.

“OC Transpo was able to suc­cess­fully im­ple­ment an anony­mous re­port­ing op­tion — the first of its kind in Canada — which I be­lieve has con­trib­uted to the on­go­ing suc­cess of this ini­tia­tive.”

Lalonde said all of the re­port­ing al­lows Transpo to see pat­terns and re­spond ac­cord­ingly.

She said a high-level look at the data re­veals that many re­ports were based on in­ci­dents that hap­pened dur­ing the day — it’s not just an is­sue late at night.

“Most of the stuff we are see­ing is hap­pen­ing on peo­ple’s com­mute, so that’s im­por­tant in­for­ma­tion,” she said. “Be as alert at 8 a.m. as you would at 10 p.m.”

She said she’s also glad that women will have the data to back up their con­cerns about safety on the sys­tem when talk­ing with the com­mis­sion.

“It’s about a shift in OC Transpo that maybe these women knew what they were talk­ing about,” she said.

They weren’t hear­ing about a lot of the stuff they are now see­ing.

Julie lalonde

Ryan TU­MILTY/METRO

Peo­ple wait for an OC Transpo bus downtown. Data re­veals many re­ports of harass­ment were based on in­ci­dents dur­ing the day, in­di­cat­ing it’s not just an is­sue late at night.

Metro | Ottawa

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