News-clipping; Melissa Harris-Perry opts for information instead of sensation

Melissa Harris-Perry and panel take a refreshingly informed and respectful stance to an incident much exploited by others in the media.


Sexual Assault on Public Transport

Sexual assault on public transportation is a prominent issue, though there is considerable evidence to suggest that the majority of instances are not reported. Recently two South American countries have been in the news on this issue.

The first story can be read here: Can Undercover Cops End Sexual Assault on Public Transportation?

That story comes via Slate and Juliana Jiménez Jaramillo.

The launch of the small task force in Bogotá, Columbia, gave rise to a variety of reactions with some commentators questioning just what constitutes sexual assault in crowded conditions where physical contact of some kind may be inevitable. According the Miami Herald however, the officers “said they’re looking for more clear-cut cases — when there’s intentional grabbing and groping.”

The operatives are predominantly, though not exclusively, female and this has cause some to question how ethical the small-scale operation is and whether officers are being used as ‘bait’ or a form of entrapment. Entrapment requires an officer induce a person to commit an offence that they would otherwise not have committed. An officer’s physical appearance or simply being female, hardly constitutes inducement to commit a sexual assault. In addition, Bogotá’s police force has highly publicized the operation in attempt to deter such behaviours by forewarning potential perpetrators that there may be legal consequences for their action.

Neighbouring country Peru recently considered a similar operation, but abandoned the idea a short time later, fearing that it would subject their female officers to undue risk. Head of the Terna Group police force, Jañovi Chuquiyanqui reportedly stated that, “No lady of any profession or occupation should be touched.” Chuquiyanqui also said that he remains committed to tackling the issue.

For more information on this topic in general, I suggest this article by Ann Friedman, which also highlights some interesting socio-economic factors.