During my morning commute earlier this week, I was surprised to notice this anti-sexual harassment PSA from across the platform at the Dupont Circle Metro station. I’ve taken Metro a lot to D.C. since I moved to Maryland almost seven years ago, but I’ve never read, seen or heard anything about the problem of sexual harassment and assault on the city’s public transportation systems until I saw this PSA. I don’t doubt for a minute that public sexual harassment and assault exists on D.C. public transit and is a problem. Thankfully I’ve never experienced sexual harassment on the Metro, but I’m aware that it could happen to me at any time.
The new PSAs exist thanks to Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS), a grassroots group that fights street harassment in Washington D.C. by empowering city residents to speak out against gender-based public sexual harassment and assault. The group’s tactics include online activism, public policy and advocacy, community workshops and direct services in order to make public transit a safe space for women and LGTBQ individuals.
Since February, CASS has pressured WMATA to do more about sexual harassment and assault and has testified in front of the D.C. City Council. The 28 PSAs (in English and Spanish) are a result of this direct action and can now be found in Metro stations across the city.
You can report sexual harassment and assault that you experience or witness (leering, groping, indecent exposure, sexual comments, etc.) online to WMATA or call 202-962-2121. You can also share your experience online with CASS.
A big “thank you” to Collective Action for Safe Spaces! Keep up the great work!