Speak Up!

As some-one who has worked in Manchester City Centre for over two years I’ve lost count of how many times I have taken the Metrolink tram. Every morning and evening Monday – Friday and then the occasional weekend tram before I decided to drive into the centre. I’ve never felt threatened or nervous about using public transport, especially not the tram – it can be late and sometimes unreliable but overall it’s a pretty good service. This all changed recently and with it, how I view my privacy and safety. I was travelling to work on a Monday morning, nothing particular special about that day, the tram was just as busy and I was craving a coffee to warm me up and wake me up. However, it wasn’t long until I starting to feel slightly strange, the man stood next to me, all 5ft 6 of him was staring straight ahead out of the window – I didn’t even catch his eye once, we were stood next to each other sideways down the carriage which isn’t unusual, you fit on the tram however you can when it’s early in morning and you’re running a few moment late to work. Anyway, back to the man – I felt his hand graze against my bum but on a sardine packed tram I wasn’t too concerned, mistakes happen and I was wearing my long heavy coat so you can excuse some-one for not knowing where each body part is so I forgot about it, went back to scrolling through my Facebook feed and Instagram notifications. Then suddenly I felt something cold against my bare leg and my blood ran cold for a second, it was the same man running his chubby fingers across my legs, stroking the same couple of inches or so over and over again and I completely froze! I thought I would have been the type of person to make a fuss and ask this perve what he thought on earth he was doing but I didn’t, I didn’t move a muscle, I just felt my body shaking with panic and dread! I moved as quickly away from him as I could and tried to put together in my head what had happened, his hand was low and covered by a coat so the CCTV camera probably wouldn’t have caught him and with the tram being so busy his excuses for touching me where countless – he could have claimed it was an accident and made me out to be an paranoid idiot. As these thoughts were running through my mind we had arrive into the city and at one of the busiest stops on the line, as people moved towards the doors I had to position myself elsewhere and once again I was next to the man who has touch me a few moment before, his hand once again found my bum over my coat and it was hard to believe this was an accident again. Luckily the man got off the tram and I let out a massive sign of relief, it wasn’t the worst thing that could have happened but the interaction with this person was uncomfortable and intrusive enough to make me feel sick and taken advantage of. At first I wasn’t going to say anything, I didn’t really see the point.. overall I was fine, he hadn’t hurt me and I was able to go to work, but after speaking with my boyfriend and turning to Twitter for some advice I realised I should report it, it was sexual harassment and he could do something much worse to some-one else if I didn’t do anything. I spoke with the police a few times over the day and they were really nice to me, I felt a bit daft as it seemed like a waste of their time however they reassure me it wasn’t and that if the case did go to court the man would be charged with sexual unwanted contact and harassment. It’s now a few weeks on from the incident and overall I’m fine, a little anxiety but nothing more than usual and I get the tram with thinking twice, but the situation did open my eyes to what could happen and does happen on a daily basis. It’s sad to say but we have to be aware and be smart in our choices (this does not only refer to females). Look after yourselves, be vigilant, be safe and if someone does sexual harass you while on public transport or anywhere for that matter speak up! You could stop that person from doing it again or ID someone the police are looking for, you can call numbers such as 101 if you don’t feel the need to call the emergency line 999. I’ve left some links below which might be useful:

http://www.btp.police.uk/advice_and_information/how_we_tackle_crime/sexual_offences.aspx

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/apr/21/i-cried-all-the-way-back-to-my-final-destination-sexual-harassment-on-public-transport

Don’t let some-one get away with sexual harassment, it is a crime and should be treated as such.

 

 

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