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T publicity targets sexual harassment

By Caitlin Castello
Globe Correspondent / November 2, 2009

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The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority launched a renewed public awareness campaign yesterday urging riders to report sexual harassment on buses and trains and in stations.

Since the campaign was launched in April 2008, there has been a 40 percent increase in arrests for indecent assault and battery, according to the MBTA. Reports of incidents increased 32 percent in the last 18 months.

Because of a decrease in crime on the T, the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center will present the authority with its 2009 Champion for Change award Wednesday.

“This partnership is based on mutual respect and a desire to reach our common goal to reduce sexual harassment on public transportation,’’ said Gina Scaramella, the crisis center’s executive director.

In the next few weeks, new signs will inform riders of a number to call if they see or experience an incident of sexual harassment, and indicate that plainclothes police officers are aboard subway cars and buses.

“As we continue our commitment to the Sexual Assault Awareness Campaign, we will work closely with BARCC to educate and empower our passengers to assist us in ensuring a safe transit environment,’’ said Chief Paul MacMillan of the MBTA’s Transit Police Department.