What to do about wankers and flashers
Recently I've gotten a lot of mail and comments from female readers complaining about weirdos and perverts who expose themselves and masturbate in front of them. From what I can tell, this is a very common occurrence that has happened to many -- if not most -- women riders.
So what's a woman to do when this happens to her? I asked the CTA brass.
The most important thing to do is report the incident. Here's advice from the CTA's Noelle Gaffney, VP of Communications:
"I would advise that if they are on the train they should push the alert button (under the blue light) and alert the rail operator. If for some reason they are not comfortable doing that, then I would recommend they exit at the next stop and report it to the operator (while the train is in the station) or to the customer assistant. Let them know the number of the rail car (on the inside it appears above the doors at either end of the car, and on the exterior it appears on the side of the car, toward the end) and a description of the person."
Gaffney also checked with the CTA's general manager of security, a former police official. He also stressed the importance reporting all such instances to the CTA or police.
"When they have reports and know when and where incidents are occurring, they can map them and study them for patterns," said Gaffney. "Our security can work with police on deployment of officers, who may be plainclothes or uniformed, depending on the situation. If we find that any of the culprits are registered sex offenders, our Law Department will institute steps to ban them from the CTA system."
Bottom line: If you see something, say something.