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What Should You Do If You Are Sexually Harassed On Public Transportations In Malaysia?

Time to learn your rights, ladies and gents.


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What Should You Do If You Are Sexually Harassed On Public Transportations In Malaysia?
Image: WINONA RAJAMOHAN
Each day, hundreds of thousands of Malaysians take the public transportation in their daily commute to work, school, run errands, or just play tourist for a day.

In fact, according to Prasarana, about 600,000 Malaysians use the rail system while another 600,000 use the public bus, making it a total of 1.2 million Malaysians who commute daily using public transportation.

Some journeys may be mundane, some may be memorable but for some people, it may be a harrowing experience.

How often do you take the public bus?
When travelling in such a confined environment, sometimes, unwarranted things happen.

Chief among them, sexual harassment.

Whether we realise it or not, sexual harassment happens on a daily basis no matter where you are.

So, what should one do if he or she encounters such an unpleasant event on public transportations?

We spoke to Mr. Lim Jin Aun, Head of Group Communications and Strategic Marketing Department of Prasarana, on how the company tackles the issue of sexual harassment on public transportations and what passengers should do in the event it happens to them.

Your Report May Help Prevent Distressing Incidents

Have you ever encountered or seen someone sexually harassed?
According to Mr. Lim, in 2017, Prasarana received 22 reports of sexual harassment, but all of the cases have been closed or resolved. This year, there are 37 cases reported as of July 2018, and 22 out the 37 cases saw the perpetrators captured.

An increase in the number of cases indicates that more victims are stepping forward to report sexual harassment cases.

Doing so shows how much courage the victims have regardless of how harrowing the experience may be and it also helps prevent future cases after the perp has been caught.

How Does Prasarana Handle These Cases?

Imagine more than 600,000 people take the train each day!
Well, they’re called Rapid for a reason.

According to Mr Lim, Prasarana has set up a Special Action Team (SAT) consisting of Auxiliary Police in uniform and plain clothes dedicated in handling sexual harassment cases.

They assure that they will be with the victim every step of the way until the police catches the perpetrator and brings him to face justice. There were some cases where they've managed to apprehend the perp immediately upon receiving the report.

Timing is important, so Mr Lim urged those who got sexually harrassed to lodge a report online via any of their social media channels or go to the customer service office located at each station as soon as possible and they will take swift action handling your case.

This Auxiliary Police officer even helped reunite a father who was separated from his son at the station.
Alternatively, there will be Auxiliary Police members at each station so feel free to approach them for help, Mr Lim said.

After receiving information, the team will then review CCTV footages for identification and take further action.

And in the event that the offender hasn’t been caught yet, Prasarana will monitor them closely and dispatch undercover Auxiliary Police on commute to be on watch.

Photos of the perp will also be distributed to the Special Action Team for identification, Mr Lim added.

What Should I Do If I Am Sexually Harassed In A Train or Bus?

Image for illustration purposes only.
If you are a victim of sexual harassment - be it verbal, non-verbal, or physical - the first thing you need to do is try to remain calm and avoid any further altercation or provocation with the said offender, Mr Lim advised.

Try to distance yourself from the perpetrator and remember his or her facial features (you can also take photos or videos for evidence). If you feel unsafe or intimidated, make some noise; scream, shout or whatever it is to attract the attention of the public and to alarm others about the harasser.

Screaming is the best way to attract attention.
Remember to gather as much information as possible; if it happened on a train, jot down the train number located on each coach, or if it happened on a bus, take note of the plate number and report it to the bus captain.

Also remember to take down the time, location, route or station the incident took place, Mr Lim said.

If you are able to take photographs or videos of the perp, share it with them as it will be used as evidence against the perp.

Immediately report it to the Customer Service Officers that can be found at each train station, the auxiliary police, or even online via their social media channels – Facebook (Rapid KL) and Twitter (@myrapidkl).

Alternatively, you can call 03-78852585 or WhatsApp +6010 7664472.

The Bystander Effect

Be an active bystander, you can make a difference.
A quick Google search on the bystander effect would explain to you how this social psychological phenomenon can be dangerous and life-threatening at times. The greater the number of bystanders, the lower the chances of someone actually offering to help the victim.

We need to change this stigma, especially if you see it happening in an enclosed space such as in a train or bus. Be an active bystander, and if you see someone falling victim to a sexual harasser, here are some steps you should take:
  • Make noise, shout, or say whatever to grab everyone’s attention including the perpetrator
  • If there are signs of tension or altercation, interject or come between the perp and victim
  • Approach the perp and try to isolate him/her from the victim
  • Try to stop it from happening
  • Take pictures or videos of the perp only if it is in a controlled and safe situation
A picture/video will make a strong evidence against the offender.
Safety is paramount so be sure that whatever you intend to do to help is safe for you, the victim, and other passengers. Don’t try to get into any altercation as it may put other passengers at risk.

Make sure you also help jot down important information such as where and when the incident took place, as well as the train/bus number.

Stay Safe, Stay Vigilant

Always be wary of shady people around you.
Prasarana believes that educating the public is vital so that victims would know what to do next in the event that they encounter this unwarranted incident.

Be sure to always be mindful and vigilant of your surroundings. Inform your family and friends of your whereabouts and if you suspect or see someone acting suspicious, immediately report that person to the Auxiliary Police or any Rapid KL staff.

Sexual harassment is a serious social issue that we need to tackle together as a society. No one should ever go through this harrowing experience and if you are a victim, we urge you to report it to the authorities. Your courageous act may help prevent others from becoming victims.

If you have any questions or want to report an incident, feel free to contact Prasarana on their social media channels or call them at 03-78852585. Alternatively, you can email them at suggest@rapidkl.com.my.

Remember to be vigilant and always be aware of your surroundings.

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