CTA to riders: Report sexual harassment

November 9, 2009 (CHICAGO) A group of women helped convince the CTA to reach out to riders.

After a long day at work, getting home safely on a CTA bus or train doesn't seem like a lot to ask. But according to research done by a group of women it is.

After experiencing sexual harassment, members of Rogers Park's Young Women's Action Team, known as YWAT, conducted their own informal survey at bus and El stops all over the city. More than 650 passengers responded.

"Over 50 percent of the respondents said they had been sexually harassed on public transit. They also found that 13 percent had been sexually assaulted," said Mariame Kaba, Young Women's Action Team.

YWAT also learned that most people didn't report cases of harassment. So the group took its results to the CTA and demanded action.

"They just didn't realize it was an issue. They were very receptive once the girls brought it to their attention," said Kaba.

Now, sexual harassment awareness ads have been placed on buses and trains. They remind passengers to report harassment by telling the CTA operator.

"We're not asking our employees or other customers to stand in harms way but we are reminding them to report incidents," said Richard Rodriguez, president, CTA.

Passengers say the ads are a good idea but some have concerns over reporting harassment to the bus or train operator.

"I haven't seen someone be harassed," said Eddie Moreno, CTA passenger.

"If somebody is really being that much of a bother, I really don't think that anything less than the physical presence of a CTA employee on the train is going to do any good," said Kelly Guist.

The CTA believes extra personnel would make trains and buses more safe but says it doesn't have the staff nor does it have the money to add extra personnel.

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