WOMEN TRAVELLING SAFELY

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Conference
2018 National Women's Conference
Date
28 September 2017
Decision
Carried

WOMEN TRAVELLING SAFELY

Conference is extremely concerned that women are feeling increasingly vulnerable when travelling in their daily lives, using public transport.

Recent British Transport Police figures show 1,448 offences against women were reported on public transport in 2016-17 – which is a significant increase from previous years. Many were sexual assaults. Also, many of these assaults occur during rush hour – dispelling the myth that the late night drinking culture is to blame, and that only those women who travel alone at night are at risk.

The End Violence Against Women Coalitiion has praised the efforts that British Transport Police has put into campaigns to encourage victims to report abuse, which Conference echo’s.

It is also noted that there has been a recent surge in anti-Muslim hate crime, much of it directed against women, and there have been many reported incidents of women being abused in the street, on public transport, and while waiting at bus stops. Women have been spat at, grabbed around the throat, and had their Hijabs ripped off.

Conference is fearful that the safety of women will be further jeopardised by the planned introduction of driver-only trains – driven by government cost cutting. A recent survey of passengers, conducted by Transport Focus (which surveys thousands of passengers every year), found that around 1 in 10 women said they had had cause to worry about their personal security on the railway, with older women feeling especially vulnerable.

Concerns about the cuts to travel budgets, and services on public transport, and the corresponding impact this has on women’s safety, were also raised by a number of respondents to the consultation for Everywoman Safe Everywhere – (Labour’s Commission on Women’s Safety). The closure of ticket offices, leaving stations completely unstaffed was raised as a particular concern.

A survey for End Violence against Women (2016) found that 55% of women did not feel safe on public transport in the evening, and took a taxi.

Disabled women too, feel particularly vulnerable on public transport, and will be significantly impacted by the introduction of Driver-only Trains, which for many will make travel by public transport impossible.

The condition of many public transport vehicles is also putting women (who frequently rely on public transport) and their families at risk. A mother from Liverpool, Frances Molloy, has launched a campaign TYRED, which aims to ban the use of tyres which are more than 10 years old on buses, coaches and minibuses. Frances’s teenage son was tragically killed in a coach crash. An inquest into the crash, which also killed 23 year old Kerry Ogden, and the driver, found that it was caused by a tyre which was nearly 20 years old.

Conference is horrified to learn that, as highlighted by TYRED, there are no legal requirements on the age of tyres for public service vehicles (PSV’s) and as mothers, sisters and aunts, we are deeply concerned to know that our child, or indeed ourselves, could be travelling on a bus with dangerously old tyres fitted.

Conference calls on the National Women Committee to liaise with relevant sections of the Union, and to work with other appropriate bodies in order to:-

– Support our Sister Unions such as ASLEF and RMT in their opposition to the introduction of Driver-only trains

– Use relevant channels to call on MP’s to oppose removing guards from trains

– Issue updated guidance for members on Travelling Safely, including advice for black and disabled women who may feel particularly vulnerable

– Highlight and support relevant Campaigns, such as BTP’s ‘Report it to Stop it’

– Publicise and do everything possible to support the TYRED campaign – including encouraging members to write to their MP’s, asking for a change in the law, and advising that members always ask coach operators what their policy is on the age of tyres they use on their vehicles.

East Lancs Health Branch