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August 11, 2011

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Groping on trains spurs advice

THE question of how to deal with sexual harassers is again confronting young women after four pictures were spread online showing a middle-aged man fondling a female passenger's breasts on a crowded subway train, with the woman keeping silent.

In the pictures on the popular forum, a man wearing glasses kept pushing a female passenger standing in front of him in a very crowded subway train. The man can be seen fondling the woman's breasts with one hand while holding a newspaper with the other hand to cover his behavior.

The woman, whose facial expression revealed embarrassment and fear, kept leaning forward to resist him by shaking off the man's hand, but she didn't scream for help or warn the man to stop.

The pictures show clearly that some women would rather keep silent than shout out loud or fight back when harassers approach on crowded trains because the evidence is lacking or they are too shy to scream out loud.

During heated online discussion, some young women told of their own experience being sexually harassed.

"At first I thought it was just a bag of other passengers that were leaning on my butt," said one of the women nicknamed Lucinda, "But I realized it was a human hand when it slipped to my legs."

She said she ran out of the carriage instead of screaming for help due to fear and a feeling of humiliation.

Some residents think that keeping silent will only encourage harassers. An official with the Metro service hotline advised women to report any sexual harassment to police or scream for help.

Netizens have listed Metro stations where sexual harassment is most likely to occur during rush hours, including People's Square, Shanghai Railway Station and Zhongshan Park stations, among others.

To keep harassers away, batons, special flashlights, alarm devices and other small "weapons" are selling well on popular e-commerce platforms. Illustrations teaching women to combat harassers with bare-hands are also becoming popular on the microblog site

On, more than 1,000 special flashlights that emit extremely strong light to blind attackers have been sold in the past 30 days. "Mini-blades" that have sharp metal tips and can be used as cellphone accessories are also hot, with a sales volume reaching 1,000 in 30 days.

But local lawyer Wang Zhan warns young women not to abuse such weapons and cause severe physical damages to harassers.

"Young women should read instructions of such weapons carefully to not cause deadly damage to harassers or themselves," said Wang.

"It's wise for them to scream for help first to collect witnesses and evidence for the harassment case."


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