Theses Master's

Concerning the persistent problem of sexual violence in the New York City subway system: Has the MTA shown discrimination against the female ridership?

Briggs, Nicola

The crime of sexual violence in the New York City subway has proven difficult to combat, and is even on the rise, despite attempts to raise awareness of this issue by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), the New York City Police Department (NYPD), and various activist organizations. Women and girls, who represent 60% of the ridership, have been subjected to offenses that range in severity from indecent exposure, inappropriate filming and photography, to forcible touch and rape, while traveling throughout the system. Thus far, the MTA has not recognized the vulnerability of female travelers in this environment, and instead has chosen to abdicate all responsibility for protecting the ridership to the NYPD. The focus of this paper will be to address elements that have a direct affect upon female passengers’ personal security, which include: the existence of a sexually hostile environment, ineffectual anti-sexual harassment campaigns, certain misconceptions about reducing sexual violence in the transport setting, and the importance of gender representation in transit planning. The primary intention of this research project is to raise renewed awareness of this issue in a way that exposes its discriminatory quality. By using a human rights framework to examine the integral part that environmental factors play in tolerating this illegal conduct, the MTA may begin to acknowledge how the agency violates the rights of the female ridership.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Institute for the Study of Human Rights
Thesis Advisors
Martin, J. Paul
M.A., Columbia University
Published Here
December 8, 2016