Harassment on De Lijn buses and trams persists

Harassment on De Lijn buses and trams persists
Interior of a De Lijn bus. Credit: The Brussels Times / Helen Lyons.

Flemish transit operator De Lijn registered 90 reports of sexually transgressive behaviour on its vehicles or at its stops in 2021.

The figure is exactly the same as it was in 2019 and 17 fewer than in 2020, according to Flemish Mobility Minister Lydia Peeters (Open Vld), who shared the numbers in response to a question from Flemish MP Katrien Schryvers (cd&v).

A majority of the reports (42 out of 90) came via the police. The other reports registered by De Lijn were filed by drivers, De Lijn operators, or directly from passengers.

Three quarters of the reports were recorded in the provinces of Antwerp, Limburg and Flemish Brabant. In most cases, the incident occurred in a De Lijn vehicle and, to a lesser extent, at a bus stop.

Figures under-reported

Flemish MP Katrien Schryvers pointed out that the number of incidents reported to De Lijn is probably lower than the actual number, and called for victims to come forward in case of incidents.

“It would be a good thing if this could be done via De Lijn's app, instead of people having to wait until they get home and only then being able to fill in a form,” Schryvers said.

Minister Peeters has already announced a public awareness campaign in the autumn of 2022. This would target bystanders in particular and the way people are addressed.

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A federal action plan to tackle sexual harassment and aggression on public transport is also being drawn up. “The phenomenon does not only occur at De Lijn, but also at other transport services,” said Peeters.

“We already have an agreement with those other public transport services to jointly set up an action against aggression towards travellers.”

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