Rhythms, sociabilities and transience of sexual harassment in transport: Mobilities perspectives of the London underground

2020-02-25T13:51:26Z (GMT) by Sian Lewis Paula Saukko Karen Lumsden
This article presents an in-depth analysis of women’s experiences of sexual harassment in public transport based on 29 qualitative interviews with victims on the London Underground. The article draws on mobility studies to develop an innovative theoretical framework and identifies three key features of experiences of sexual harassment in this space. First, the rhythms of the city (i.e. rush hours and night time) and the Underground facilitated and concealed different forms of sexual harassment. Second, women frequently did not respond to sexual harassment due to respecting the urban civil inattention prevailing on the tube, accentuated by unwillingness to disrupt their fellow passengers’ and their own urban trajectories. Third, the transitory nature of the Underground created a situation in which women barely fully registered harassment before it had passed, anticipated it to be over quickly and meant that the perpetrators could disappear into the network. The article suggests that these characteristics of sexual harassment in public transport account for its endemic and underreported nature and offers analytical insights for research on sexual harassment in different context and on different crimes in transport environments.