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Activists Call On CTA To Post Anti-Sexual Harassment Campaign

By Jim Bochnowski in News on Jul 17, 2015 9:40PM

Despite a high profile PSA campaign about CTA courtesy, there are still no ads regarding sexual harassment. One woman is trying to change that and is being rebuffed along the way.

According to crime data, there were four instances of sexual assault on CTA trains in 2014 and 13 instances of indecent exposure in 2013, DNAinfo reports. That's far too many, and it's likely there are countless other instances of sexual harassment on the CTA every day that are never even reported.

That's why last year Kara Crutcher launched the "Courage Campaign," which she hoped would bring attention to the issue of sexual harassment on public transportation. As DNAinfo reported at the time, her campaign was attempting to work with the CTA to produce advertisements to fight sexual harassment on city buses and trains and to bring more awareness to the issue.

As she said at the time, "Someone can see the sign and see a young girl getting harassed and think, 'Oh my god this person may not stand up for themselves right now, maybe I can help her out.'"

Fast forward an entire year, and unfortunately those advertisements haven't materialized. The transit agency's ad company, Titan Worldwide, has a rule that states PSAs must be posted by a government agency or a registered nonprofit, leaving the Courage Campaign out in the cold. Crutcher and 15 girls from the female youth empowerment group "Girl World" recently met with CTA board members to talk about bringing such advertisements to the public transportation system.

At the meeting, Crutcher was frustrated by the fact that the conversation seemed to center around how to report incidents of sexual harassment, instead of how to create the ads, she said. Jaime Schmitz, a youth development specialist who works with Girl World, agreed, telling DNAinfo, "I don't think people realize how hard it is for people to share a story like that. They're under the impression that when you're harassed it should be so easy to report. But a lot of the time it's re-traumatizing."

The point of the ads is to prevent the incident before it even starts, so simply reporting incidents doesn't necessarily modify behavior, the women argued. While frustrated by the setback, Crutcher is not giving up. "I have no doubt that they care about the safety of their riders. I just think more can be done, and this is great vehicle to do so, and right now I can't move forward," she said.

At the very least, if the city can put together a PSA about not assaulting cab drivers, they can put one together for this, too.