The Toronto Transit Commission has launched what it describes as a bold new public awareness campaign targeting sexual harassment, racism, homophobia and other troubling behaviour on the system. The initiative, dubbed “This Is Where…” was announced Wednesday and includes posters that will be placed on vehicles and in stations, as well as a website and social media campaign.
The launch of the awareness blitz was accompanied by the rollout of a new mobile app called SafeTTC, which will allow transit riders to use their smartphones to report harassment, safety issues and other incidents.
“The TTC knows that harassment is unfortunately too common. To do nothing about it, to try and hide it, or worse, to deny it exists, is a disservice to our customers and to public safety in general,” said TTC chief customer officer Kirsten Watson. “With this campaign, we are putting those who would harass others on notice. We know you’re out there, and your actions are unacceptable, unwelcome and are under scrutiny.”
One poster is titled “This Is Where Julia was groped on her way home.”
“Julia was exhausted after a hard day’s work and fell asleep on the blue night bus,” it reads.
“She heard the announcement for her stop and awoke to find a stranger touching her. Julia felt sick. She felt violated. She wanted to scream… No one should have to experience this.”
Other posters include, “This Is Where Em and Lisa were attacked for their sexuality” and “This Is Where Savi faced violence when confronting a racist.”
Watson said the campaign is focused on all forms of unwanted behaviour, but she described sexual assault as a growing problem on the TTC. There were 55 sexual assaults reported to the transit agency during the first seven months of this year, compared to 67 in all of 2015.
As the Star reported last October, Toronto police (who keep separate statistics) received 577 reports of sexual assaults on the TTC between 2011 and 2015, a rate of almost one every three days.