Sex abuse on buses a growing problem for Colombia capital

(Photo: El Espectador)

Sexual harassment is by no means a new or minor problem on the buses of Bogota’s TransMilenio, with a rising number of recent arrests highlighting a public transport phenomenon that has already distressed hundreds of women in the Colombian capital.

In the past two weeks alone Bogota’s TransMilenio transport service has seen 16 people detained, the official responsible for public order in Bogota, Hugo Ernesto Zarrate, told radio station Blu Radio on Tuesday.

FACT SHEET: Bogota’s Transmilenio

Zarrate stated that increasingly serious reports have prompted authorities to establish new measures to tackle this persistent problem.

Incidents occur most commonly during peak hours on the fast transit network, that opened in 2000. Overcrowding incites all-too-common cases in which women are inappropriately touched, have a stranger expose their member to them and force them to touch it, or masturbate in front of them.

The amount of abuses so far this year has already rocketed up from 2013 figures. While 109 people were arrested for harassment in 2013, giving an average of one arrest every three days, at this years rate at least one sexual aggressor is being turned in per day.

Men also figure among the victims of this ever-growing problem, though the overwhelming majority — 95%, according to police – are women.

A blog entitled “Anecdotes of a groper” was recently discovered, on which a man would publish recordings of his perverted “achievements” for all 39 of his followers.

Colombia Reports has gathered some of the most recent testimonies by female victims over the past month.

On February 11, 2014, Diana Gamboa made a public denunciation of her experience, in which she received no help from bystanders while she was molested by a 28-year-old man.

“When we were arriving at Jimenez station, I realized that the person at my side mas masturbating and later put his member in my hands. I asked the driver to stop, to call the police. But no one helped.”

Diana took matters into her own hands. Upon reaching her destination she dragged her assailant to authorities.

“He began to unzip my flyer and touch me horribly,” Parra told local press. “I shouted shoved him away, and a man who was there called the police. We arrived at Jimenez station and the people started yelling that he was a disgusting man.”

On February 15, 2014, a woman who chose to remain anonymous told Caracol radio station that she remains traumatized following the aggression.

“I feel something weird touch my body twice, I lower my head and he had his flyers down, he was touching me with his member.”

Municipal secretary Zarrate announced that a new program should see 1,000 community support officers in place along the TransMilenio over the next 15 days, with the aim of not only assisting passengers in need but also improving the quality of service.

Earlier this month, the secretary for Women’s Affairs set in motion a prevention plan which reserves the seats closest to the driver for female passengers.

MOREUnderstanding Bogota’s Transmilenio system


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