NYC Subway Harassment Is Up 50%

Photographed by Ruby Yeh
Subway harassment is on the rise. Sexual offenses occurring on the New York City subway are up more than 50%, according to a Monday Wall Street Journal report.

That statistic does not include rape, which reportedly occurs roughly twice a year on the subway, but does include things like unwanted touching, inappropriate photography or video taking, indecent exposure, and unwanted surveillance.

So why the spike? Are men in New York just that much worse than they used to be?

The NYPD attributes the rise in crime to empowering women to come forward and report the sexual offenses, the New York Times writes. NYPD Chief of Transit Joseph Fox says that he learned how to increase reports after visiting London and seeing how their police department handled the issue.

“Crimes that would previously go unreported because victims are embarrassed, intimidated or lacked the confidence that the case would be taken seriously are now being documented and fully investigated,” Fox tells the Times. “Our teams are catching more sex offenders in the act and more women are coming forward knowing that we are committed to aggressively pursuing each criminal complaint.”

So far this year, there have been 458 reported sex crimes compared to only 299 over the same period last year. That puts the city on pace for roughly 900 such crimes this year.

“Few men know this crime exists,” Fox tells the Times. “But far too many woman do.”

Subway sex crimes are an epidemic and will presumably not go down over summer, when more people (like tourists, for example) ride the subway. But reporting is the first step to dealing with a problem. The police can’t fix a problem they don’t know exists. While this is a troubling number, it may actually be a positive sign of progress being made.

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