Ask any woman who has to regularly use public transportation in Jakarta and they will probably tell you that they face a daily barrage of verbal and physical harassment just trying to get from point A to point B. Now that anecdotal evidence is backed up by a survey by Thomson Reuters, which ranked Jakarta as having one of the most dangerous public transportation systems for women.
The survey, which covered 15 of the largest capital cities in the world, ranked Indonesia as 5th in terms of how unsafe women felt while using public transport. Latin American cities Bogota, Mexico City, and Lima were ranked 1st, 2nd and 3rd respectively, while the city of Delhi in India came in at #4. New York City was ranked as having the safest public transportation. The survey used data from 6,550 women and gender experts.
Women were asked about a number of different aspects regarding how safe they felt, such as “Have you been verbally harassed by men when using public transport?” and “How confident are you that authorities would investigate if you were to report harassment or an attack?” (Jakarta ranked particularly low on that last question).
The Thomson Reuters Foundation notes that studies repeatedly show a link between safe transport and women’s economic empowerment and ability to work and study.
Mary Crass, head of policy at the International Transport Forum, an OECD think-tank, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, “When there is not frequent, reliable, accessible transport, this can affect women and anyone’s ability to access opportunity and notably employment in urban areas, which can make a big difference for women in particular. (Women) tend to be more reliant on public transport … particularly in low income or middle-income countries, in emerging economies.”
Authorities in Jakarta have recently taken a new tact to prevent sexual harassment on trains – publicly shaming men caught perving on passengers. It’s a questionable solution to a pervasive problem, but a more meaningful answer would require a major change in societal thinking and putting an end to misogynistic culture that allows men to harass women with little consequence.
But that’s would be really tough to change, so maybe we should just let this public shaming of perverts continue for now. What say you, ladies?