Molestation on public transport on the rise

Crowded trains and buses during rush hour have long been a common grouse among commuters here, but there may be one more reason to worry.

An increasing number of outrage of modesty cases have been reported on public transport here.

In the first quarter this year, 42 molestation cases were reported, up from 29 for the same period last year, police figures show.

This follows a rise in reported cases from 114 in 2011 to 154 in 2012 and 156 last year.

Commuters like senior marketing manager Fiona Lee, 30, said: "It is a very opportunistic platform... for these offenders as it is a crowded place, and they think they can get away with it."

Ms Lee, who travels to and from work by train daily, added: "It is such a squeeze sometimes that there is a lack of personal space. Some people may pretend it is an accident, and by the time the victim realises, it may be too late."

Ridership on buses rose by 3.4 per cent last year from 2012, to reach 3.6 million a day; for trains, this was 2.62 million a day last year, up 3.9 per cent.

A police spokesman said the Public Transport Security Command is conducting regular patrols at the train networks and bus interchanges, as part of "ongoing efforts" to combat crime.

"The police also encourage victims not to remain silent and to expose culprits at the earliest opportunity possible, to ensure that the culprit is caught and to save others from being victimised."

That was what a woman did on April 17, when a 51-year-old man allegedly molested her on an MRT train heading to City Hall, during the morning rush hour.

She confronted her assailant and took him to the control station when the train stopped at Bugis. The man was arrested there.

On April 14, also during the morning peak period, a 41-year- old man allegedly took advantage of a woman travelling from Yishun to Ang Mo Kio. The act was witnessed by another passenger, who confronted the suspect and alerted station staff.

Earlier this year, a 13-year-old girl was allegedly molested on board a bus along Upper Bukit Timah Road. A 21-year-old man was subsequently arrested.

Outrage of modesty against people above 18 years old carries a maximum penalty of a two-year jail term and a fine and caning. The maximum jail term rises to five years if the victim is below 18.

This article was published on April 28 in The Straits Times.

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