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Stopping sexual harassment and assault in transportation

As the Chair of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, my number one concern is always the safety and well-being of the traveling public. That means not only the safety of the transportation system but a safe environment for passengers and transportation workers.

So, when I learned about the widespread problem of sexual harassment and assault in our transportation system, you can bet I took up the fight.

Here are some of the harrowing numbers I discovered:

  • A 2018 survey found that 68 percent of flight attendants had experienced sexual harassment during their flying career, including 35 percent who'd been harassed by a passenger in the last year;
  • Only about seven percent felt comfortable enough to report it to their employers.
  • What's worse, 68 percent of flight attendants stated that employers made no efforts to address sexual harassment at work.

And it's not just airlines:

  • This summer, reported sexual assaults on cruise ships nearly doubled.
  • Just last Wednesday, 20 women who'd been sexually assaulted while using Lyft added their names to the growing pile of complaints and suits against the company.
  • And on Thursday, Uber released a report cataloging 3,000 sexual assaults (which they divvied up into 21 separate categories) in US rides in 2018 alone.

I'm taking action.

I authored and introduced the Stop Sexual Assault and Harassment in Transportation Act so we can finally address these safety concerns.

This legislation will require transportation providers to develop and implement formal policies to help prevent sexual harassment and assault and help law enforcement hold accountable those who perpetrate these egregious acts. In addition, this legislation requires the Department of Transportation to begin collecting reportable data on the number of sexual assault and harassment incidents on transportation systems and make it publicly available, so we can hold the industry accountable.

In today's day and age, It's not enough to just say sexual harassment and assault are "wrong." We need action. We need action to flesh out the right processes in dealing with sexual harassment and assault when it's reported. And we need to take immediate and extensive preventative measures so no one feels unsafe when traveling on public transportation.

When flight attendants are working and airline passengers are flying at 30,000 feet, when Amtrak employees and passengers are crossing state lines, when the bus drivers and riders are traveling across town, and cruise ship employees and passengers are traveling through international waters, there must be clear policies that not only address sexual harassment and assault but also take preventative measures to stop it before it happens.

I look forward to moving this bill through Congress because we need to build a safer transportation system for everyone.


Posted on December 9, 2019.

As Independent as Oregon.

Peter DeFazio's common-sense proposals aim to create good-paying jobs, expand access to affordable health care and develop options outside of the for-profit marketplace, restore economic and educational opportunities, hold government accountable and tip the scales of inequality back in favor of hard-working Oregonians.

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