Last week we saw the launch of a new campaign from Transport for London to help tackle the issue of sexual harassment and violence on public transport in London. The print campaign uses negative space to illustrate how offenders are more likely to be caught if victims of assault ensure that they report it to the police. An adjacent video campaign shows a businessman giving a presentation with a heavily pixelated and blurred out face – as more and more women report the sexual harassment he inflicted, his face becomes clearer and better defined, eventually leading to his arrest in the workplace.
Interestingly this campaign targets women rather than men, asking them to come forward to report assaults to prevent it happening again – ‘Report It, To Stop It’. This approach, targeting specific women who have experienced assault, attempts to create a community that through shared knowledge can tackle the perpetrators of these crimes.
Although the campaign does not blame the victims of assault, they do seem to be implicitly saying that victims are responsible for any further assaults that their attacker carries out if they do not report it. We’d like to see TfL take a more progressive approach to this campaign – not just asking the victims themselves but other people on trains and buses to be vigilant and aware. If they want to create a safe community on public transport in London, part of that comes from creating an atmosphere where women and other vulnerable groups feel that if they are attacked, someone will stand up for them, rather than let it pass them by.
Government campaigns such as ‘Disrespect Nobody’ are already tackling signs of relationship abuse and educating people to prevent sexual and domestic violence in relationships. It may be that it becomes the role of TfL not just to prevent attacks but also to educate and inform passengers, alongside the government campaigns. Previous campaigns such as ‘London is Open’ have emphasised the communal and hospitable nature of London. Perhaps it is time for a new slogan, ‘London is Watching’, so that victims of assault, sexual or otherwise, know that their fellow Londoners are looking out for them.