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Hong Kong MTR

One in three Hong Kong women a victim of actual or attempted indecent assault on MTR: survey

Of those claiming so, 90 per cent said they had not filed a police report, citing difficulty in proving it

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 July, 2017, 7:30am
UPDATED : Monday, 17 July, 2017, 7:30am

About a third of female respondents surveyed by a Hong Kong political party said they were victims of actual or attempted indecent assault on the MTR, but just one in 10 had actually reported it to police.

The pro-establishment Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong also found majority support among both female and male passengers for women-only carriages. The group surveyed 898 people – 591 of them women and 307 men.

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Of the female respondents, 205 said they had experienced indecent assault or attempted indecent assault on the city’s railway operator. When asked if they had reported such cases to police, 90 per cent said they had not, mainly because they felt it would be difficult to prove.

“The most concerning point to us, is that ... more than 50 per cent of women feel sexual harassment on the MTR is very common,” said lawmaker Elizabeth Quat, who chairs the DAB’s women’s affairs committee.

She noted the rail operator was dealing with more than 100 reports of indecent assault per year.

“Because indecent assaults often go unreported, these figures are just the tip of the iceberg,” she added.

It is not about gender discrimination, but providing more protection for women
Elizabeth Quat, lawmaker

The survey showed that 80 per cent of women supported designation of female-only carriages, as did 65 per cent of men. Two thirds of the men felt such an arrangement would help reduce problems such as “unnecessary misunderstandings” or accusations during crowded rush-hour periods.

Support was stronger among both men and women for such carriages during rush hour rather than all day. Such arrangements are already operational in South Korea, Japan and in some mainland cities, Quat said.

“Women make up a higher proportion of [indecent assault cases] ... so it is not about gender discrimination, but providing more protection for women and giving them another option.”

The group called for the MTR to consider installing more CCTV cameras inside train carriages and increasing patrols by plainclothes police officers or staff. It also urged bystanders to act when witnessing such assaults and for victims not to stay silent.

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An MTR spokesman said most of the operator’s trains were of an “open design” and that introducing female-only compartments would “reduce the flexibility of passenger movement” between compartments.

“[The] MTR has no current plan to introduce female-only compartments on its railway lines as the introduction of any kind of designed compartment will have [an] impact on our crowd control management,” the operator said. “We would continue to work closely with the police to take all reasonable measures to prevent crime within the railway premises for the security of passengers.”