• Sun
  • Dec 21, 2014
  • Updated: 10:44am
NewsHong Kong

Survey finds one-third of women suffered sex crime on MTR

Assaults go unreported by victims, who fear disrupting passengers and say police do little

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 22 November, 2012, 7:42am


  • Yes: 33%
  • No: 67%
22 Nov 2012
  • Yes
  • No
Total number of votes recorded: 523

More than a third of women surveyed by a rape crisis organisation say they have been victims of a sexual crime while either travelling on board an MTR train or passing through a station. But none alerted police, with many saying that making a report was a waste of time.

The poll organiser, the Rape Crisis Centre, urged MTR managers to install more surveillance cameras, especially in areas where women wearing skirts might be exposed to a peeping Tom, such as in glass elevators.

The survey, conducted online and via questionnaires handed out over the last two months, received 533 responses - 387 from women and 146 from men.

Of the women, 139 - or 36 per cent - said they had fallen victim to some form of sexual crime. Most said they had been assaulted, while some were unwilling witnesses to indecent exposure or lewd acts; others said men had tried to take invasive photographs of them.

Less than 10 per cent sought help from people nearby.

When asked why they didn't take action, more than half said they were afraid of being blamed by other passengers if they caused the train to be delayed, for example; while a quarter said a report wouldn't help.

The centre said most victims resorted to what it called a passive response, such as leaving the train compartment, holding their belongings in a protective way or staring down the offender.

Three people said they screamed loudly when the incident occurred. Police figures show there were 189 offences of sexual assault or of taking pictures up women's skirts in the first eight months on the MTR, more than the annual total last year, the report said.

While the group called for the MTR Corporation to introduce changes to deter sex criminals, it rejected the idea of adding a woman-only train compartment. It argues women should not be perceived as too weak to protect themselves. Men and transsexuals were also victims.

The crisis centre also looked at 78 MTR stations, and found that the glass sides on certain lifts and some escalators, such as in Hung Hom, could become potential "black spots" for perverts.

The Law Reform Commission is currently proposing that up-skirt picture-taking be considered a form of sexual assault, a new category replacing the current indecent assault.

Once the offence was reclassified, offenders' identities would be available in the sex-criminal register, said panel member Eric Cheung Tat-ming, assistant law professor at the University of Hong Kong. The public consultation is to end next month.

Elene Lam Yee-ling, an advocacy officer at the centre, said the proposal's wording for up-skirt photo-taking was vague.


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This article is now closed to comments

In some big cities the underground service, especially in pick hours, reserves front train compartments for women travelling alone or acommpanied by a man. This, so authorities say, prevents not only any attempt of "outrage of modesty" as is said in Singapore, but theft.
What about a hotline number posted in highly visible locations where those experiencing or witnessing such problems could discretely report them and get assistance that didn't include stopping the train or bus?
If the survey reflects the true situation about sexual abuse on the MTR correctly it would mean that approx. 1/3 of male passengers on the MTR are perverts and criminals.
Before reporting such findings SCMP should do more scrutinizing of information e.g. what questions and how they were asked in the survey. And how were the interviewed people being chosen?
Something needs to be done about sexual harassment and that quickly. There is no doubt about it !
But things need to be put into perspective and surveys to be done scientifically correct. Within 25 years in Hong Kong I and my wife have never been subjected to sexual harassment or have ever noticed anything suspicious nor have I ever heard anything from friends.
You are quite right!
Never trust survey figures organized and published by self-appointed vigilante groups. This applies especially to those from groups, who for some peculiar motive, dedicate their whole lives and time lifting up stones looking for "perverts". There are many documented cases world-wide of harmful injustices being done to innocent people, who have been misidentified and wrongfully accused as s e x offenders or child abusers by over-enthusiastic "experts" desperate for a case. Tread warily before making changes to the law.
As disturbing as the plague of sexual assaults in crowded places may be, the survey's results cannot possibly be an accurate guide to prevalence. Presumably, many of those visiting a rape crisis website are there for just that reason, or something similar; and the sample size is very small. The Post should be more circumspect before trumpeting such numbers in this sensational manner.


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