How to stop subway groping?

July 15, 2008 6:14:53 PM PDT
It's a dirty little secret about riding the subways. There are underground gropers. As the women who have been victims can testify, it is infuriating and humiliating. Rosa Ramirez sees the same guy and the same harassment every morning.

"He's holding the paper in front of his privates and as the train is bouncing, he's bouncing with the paper and he's rubbing on the paper," Ramirez said.

It's exactly that kind of disgusting behavior that subway riders, the transit authority and police want to stop. So here's the question: Would a public awareness campaign, like one now in place in Boston, reduce the harassment or encourage more of it?

"It could bring out ideas that men never thought of before," one rider worried.

The transit authority apparently set aside a planned campaign after seeing what happened in Boston, where the number of sexual harassment complaints increased after city leaders launched the campaign.

The argument that a public awareness campaign will only increase the number of subway sexual harassment complaints actually makes perfect sense to the Manhattan borough president who one year ago completed a survey on this very issue.

"That doesn't shock me. It doesn't surprise me. You want the complaints because only by people stepping up and saying something can you then figure out ways to mitigate some of this behavior," Scott Stringer explained.

Oraia Reid also wants to see the campaign happen. She runs Rightrides, which offers a free late night ride home to women worried about a sexual assault.

"You would have info on how we can better protect ourselves, the resources by which to report the crimes and offenders would know they are going to be held accountable," she said.

Transit authority leaders had no comment about their planned campaign, saying only they'll continue to work closely with the New York Police Department.

STORY BY: Eyewitness News reporter Joe Torres