Taking steps to make public transit safer, Metro is implementing a first-of-its-kind 24/7 sexual harassment counseling hotline. The hotline, 1-844-Off-Limits (633-5464), will be staffed by counselors from the community advocacy organization Peace Over Violence, which has 45 years of experience counseling victims of sexual abuse in Los Angeles County.
“This 24/7 hotline is part of Metro’s commitment to keeping the system a safe space for all passengers,” said Metro Board Chair John Fasana. “Launching the round the clock sexual harassment hotline shows that Metro cares about our riders experiences and that we’re committed to their safety.”
The public has become increasingly aware of street harassment with several online projects dedicated to documenting and stopping it. In a survey commissioned by Stop Street Harrassment, 65% of all women surveyed had experienced street harassment. Among all women, 23% had been sexually touched, 20% had been followed, and 9% had been forced to do something sexual. Among men, 25% had been street harassed (a higher percentage of LGBT-identified men than heterosexual men reported this) and their most common form of harassment was homophobic or transphobic slurs (9%).
“A victim of sexual harassment on a bus or train might have to encounter their harasser on a daily basis while traveling to work or school,” said Patty Giggans, Executive Director of Peace Over Violence. “We want victims to make reports and also have the resources they need to recover in a healthy way.”
Metro has also implemented cell service in Red/Purple Line stations in downtown Los Angeles, increased video surveillance and monitoring of the transit system and added provisions to the Metro Code of Conduct to specifically prohibit many different types of harassment.
“Metro partnered with Peace Over Violence nearly two years ago and efforts to make the transit system a safe space for all travelers are increasingly successful, but we’re not resting on our laurels,” said Los Angeles Mayor and Metro First Vice Chair Eric Garcetti. “We’re providing resources for our passengers who may experience long-lasting effects from unwanted sexual contact.”