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Staring can land you in prison as police crackdown on ‘unhealthy sexual behaviour

In London, it is illegal to stare at other people in an intrusive way on the tube. This is part of a campaign by Transport for London and the government to tackle sexual harassment. Chief Commissioner of the British Transport Police (BTP), Sarah White, has now told The Telegraph that people are actually being prosecuted for this.

White says her team receives daily reports of harassment and sexually abusive behavior on public transport. Since the end of the lockdown and with it the abolition of mandatory working from home, these have increased by 175 percent. Staring, like intentionally bumping into someone or taking pictures under someone’s skirt, can be part of sexual harassment, White says. “It’s human nature to look at things. It’s different when someone stares, lurks, or when there’s a sexual motivation.”

That staring could indicate “unhealthy sexual behavior,” White said. “We are reporting this as a crime and investigating it.” For example, undercover agents are active in the metro to catch people in the act.

White says a person has recently been “successfully prosecuted” for inappropriate staring. Dominik, 26, was sentenced to 22 weeks in prison for continuously staring at a woman on the train. According to the police report, he allegedly refused to move and blocked the woman’s way out when she asked him to stop looking at her. He was eventually found guilty of causing intentional harassment. He has since been released on parole.

There has also been criticism of the inclusion of staring in the anti-harassment campaign. According to some it would be too subjective to judge and according to others it would make no sense at all and the police should focus on prosecuting assaulters and rapists.

Earlier this month, FunX spoke with Anneke (28) from the Stop Street Intimidation Foundation. She explained the difference between a genuine compliment and intimidation. “Intimidation occurs when a victim feels unsafe and changes his behavior as a result.” How a particular comment is supposedly intended is therefore secondary.

” It’s intrusive behavior. Think berating, humiliating, or continuing when someone ignores you. That doesn’t always have to be accompanied by words. If you chase someone four blocks or sit closer and closer, you don’t say anything, but you are someone giving an unsafe feeling. It therefore also appeals to the empathy of the person who commits the intimidation. Think for a moment: can this make someone feel unsafe?”

The British Transport Police launched an app last summer that encourages travelers to report sexual harassment if they see it happen (or become a victim of it themselves). “It calls on bystanders to intervene safely and legally.” The ‘Have A Word’ campaign video, launched last month by the Mayor of London, also addresses the responsibility of bystanders in tackling street harassment. “The problem surrounding women’s safety has been focused only on women for too long,” said the mayor. ” I’m determined to change that.”

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