Women Have Seen It All on Subway, Unwillingly
It is a hidden reality of the New York City subway system, and perhaps mass transit systems everywhere since the first trolley car took to the tracks. It begins with a pinch or a shove, someone standing too close. But it can be much worse.
This week, as the Police Department announced the arrest of 13 men charged with groping and flashing women in the subways, women around the city nodded. Yes, they said, this had happened to them. Yesterday. Last month. Last fall. Twenty years ago.
"Every girl I know has at least one story," said Barbara Vencebi, 23, a studio photographer standing outside the No. 6 train station at 116th Street in East Harlem yesterday.
It is a crime abetted by the peculiar landscape of the underworld that is the subway system, by the anonymity of a crowded car where everybody is avoiding eye contact. And by the opportunity for a quick escape at the next stop, to disappear behind a pillar, into a tunnel, up an escalator.
Fortunately for me I don't think I'm considered particularly frottable nor worthy of a flash, and so I can make my way on packed trains without too much concern. I suspect that many others are not as fortunate. Presumably the experience is the same on Melbourne trains as it is on the New York subway, although thus far it's not something I've heard much about. Certainly an enthusiastic frotteur would find ample opportunities on packed suburban services, but thus far I've remained oblivious.
Enlighten me, fellow travellers.