Metro begins anti-sexual harassment ad campaign

There's a new push to prevent sexual harassment while riding the rails. This month, Metro is rolling out a new campaign at 28 stations in hopes of ending the violence.

Sixty percent of transit riders across the country, mostly women, have been sexually harassed.

That statistics, paired with personal experiences, has some of the thousands of women who take public transit in D.C. rethinking that route.

"As I was approaching the bus, he said, 'I'm going to disrespect you today'," Katie Broendel recalled.

Broendel says a Metrobus driver made the inappropriate pass at her. She, like so many other riders, didn't know what to do next.

The new Metro ads will give riders the tools they need for reporting sexual misconduct.

Broendel said, " I really hope that people see the ads and realize that a.) they're not alone. It happens to a lot of people and know that there is a way to take action and that Metro is going to listen to them."

Holly Kearl with the Collection Action for Safe Spaces added, " Day to day, hopefully people don't need that information, but when they do need it, they'll be able to find it."

Kearl was one of the main advocates for the public service announcements. Her Collective Action for Safe Spaces team testified before the D.C. Council in February, calling for a solution to sexual crimes.

"Public spaces need to be safe for everyone, and if they're not, people will stop being there," Kearl said.

People who ride the rails were torn on whether the ads are the best way to step up safety.

Metro rider Pia Salmre said, "This guy, he approached me and then he approached two other women and then we ended up leaving that car and going into another, but it was uncomfortable so I think these ads will be great."

Yasmeen Jordan, also a Metro rider, countered, " I'm on the fence about that only because on one side you have accidents where guys may rub up against you accidentally, and some people may take it over the top, thinking it's something extreme.

This round of PSAs is just the first of three phases. Metro wants to keep the message fresh, so people will continue taking notice.

This is not Metro's first attempt at cracking down on sexual harassment. Back in March, the agency launched an online reporting tool for the crime. In just two months, 44 people came forward. That's nearly half of the complaints made in total last year.

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