Sexual Violence in Public Transport: How to Recognise It and What to Do?

Almost every woman has been subjected to sexual harassment in public transport, which can range from unwanted sexual remarks to masturbation or unwanted touching. On March 8, we launched an activist action in public transport to draw attention to this issue.

We placed hangers in Sarajevo’s trams, trolleybuses, and buses with messages urging a response in cases of sexual harassment, and information on how to recognise sexual harassment and how to react if you or someone else is a victim of sexual harassment in public transport was displayed at several bus stops. It is critical to educate citizens that any form of unwanted touching, as well as taking photos, cat calling, or staring, is sexual harassment and should not be accepted as normal. Even if we witness harassment in public transport, we should help and intervene to make it clear that such behaviour is unacceptable.

Read the text we displayed at the bus/trolley stops below:

What is sexual harassment in public transport? Is it happening to me?

Sexual harassment is any unwelcome behaviour of a sexual nature.

If someone in public transport was:

  • Standing right next to you even though there was enough space
  • brushing up against you
  • touching you
  • making sexual comments or innuendos
  • staring at you and your body
  • masturbating or showing genitals
  • taking photos of you

What should I do?

  • Loudly warn the person to stop
  • If a person lunges at you, try to move or push them away
  • Tell a driver
  • Ask for help from others
  • Sexual harassment is a criminal offence – call the police

Take precautions to ensure your safety. If you freeze and are afraid to do anything, know that this is one of the most common reactions. Clothes or anything else cannot be used as an excuse. Seek help from others as soon as possible.

What if I notice sexual harassment?

  • Do not close your eyes or turn your head away
  • Warn the perpetrator
  • Tell a driver
  • Talk to the victim
  • Be prepared to call the police if necessary