Reports of harassment surge
More than 800 incidents submitted over past two years
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.
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