In 2020, the Government of Catalonia conducted a survey of women’s experiences of urban mobility and sexual harassment on public transport in the Metropolitan Area of Barcelona. The survey revealed that around 17% of all reported criminal acts that have taken place on public transport, of which 60% of the victims are women and 40% are men.
Overall, 92% of women between 16-25 years old has experienced harassment on public transport, and in 72% of cases witnesses (or bystanders) did not intervene or notify professional services. This has led to one quarter of women reporting that they use avoidance tactics (and 8% men), such as avoiding travelling alone on public transport and two thirds of women avoid public transport during dark hours (just 20% men).
Following the study and the collection of data, the Government of Catalonia has approved a Plan for the prevention of sexual harassment on public transport. The document aims to combat sexual assault, defining 5 lines of action and 18 measures to be implemented by 2025 in the following areas:
Coordination among all stakeholders involved in urban mobility planning to prevent sexual harassment in public transport and to define the future strategy and transport policy framework integrating a gender perspective, including:
- Establish the legal framework to facilitate the implementation of actions.
- Implement management structures that better address sexual harassment incidents.
- Collect and analyse data on women in the public transport system.
- Provide increased job opportunities for women in the transport sector.
2. Design and operations
Adapting public transport infrastructure, spaces, vehicles, operations and design to ensure equal transport services for all.
- Include women’s needs into the transport system planning and design.
- Design an integrated public transport and public space system to reduce the perception of insecurity and increase safety.
- Adapt and make public transport infrastructure and vehicles more inclusive.
3. Improve prevention and care systems
Promoting systems for the prevention of sexual violence and care for victims in public transport.
- Identify a dedicated team that tackles gender-based violence situations.
- Enable initiatives and measures against sexual harassment on public transport.
- Raise public awareness regarding the identification of sexual violence.
- Ensure the confidentiality of people who experience gender-based violence.
4. Awareness raising
Raising awareness about gender equality and tackling gender-based violence, also in working environments, through communication actions.
- Raise awareness among public transport staff regarding gender-based violence to facilitate their identification and action.
- Promote community action against sexual harassment.
- Adopt sanctions against those committing sexual harassment.
- Actively counter gender-based violence, in particular on public transport.
5. Technological tools
Encouraging the use of technological tools to encourage the reporting of sexual harassment situations.
- Encourage people to report situations of sexual violence on public transport.
- Provide communication tools, such as digital apps, for users to report sexual harassment situations.
- Identify the variables that are important in sexual harassment situations on public transport (e.g. area, time, space).
Original article published by POLIS Network on 5 July 2022.
- Publication date
- 18 July 2022
- Safety and urban mobility