(Featured Photo Credit: Carbon Brief)
Just last Saturday, I agreed to meet my friend, Nai and her boyfriend, Hisham for dinner in Bangsar. So, as a big fan of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) system, I didn’t mind taking a train around 8ish at night.
Of all the public transportation options (minus e-hailing), I’ve always found the LRT to be the safest of them all. The stations and platforms are well-lit, there is always a personnel on duty and the trains are always on time unless otherwise announced.
So, there I was sitting (while keeping my Social Distance from others) and playing Pokemon Go on my phone – it’s always fun because I can collect items and gifts at each station, when I heard the announcement of Bangsar stop. That was when I finally peeled off my face from the phone screen to check for the signboard, in case I missed my stop.
I noticed a foreigner sitting right opposite of me while holding his phone up high. I could see that he was snapping photos. It was a few seconds later that he was taking MY photos without my permission!
Before you think and ask, how sure I was, here’s the scenario – the foreign man who couldn’t be any taller than me (judging from the way he sat) was sitting with the glass window behind him. Since it was already nightfall and the coach was well-lit, I could easily see the reflection of his phone screen on the window.
And I knew he was stealing shots of me because I could clearly see my red skirt in the frame!
I didn’t know how else to react other than disembarking at my stop in Bangsar, which was just a mere 10 seconds after I realised what happened and went to see one of the personnel on duty to report the incident. She was sympathetic and actually expressed her shock and fear of the incident.
She asked me if I could identify the person. Let’s be clear here, with everybody wearing a mask in public places due to the health and safety SOPs, how could I identify him? So I suggested if she could track the coach I was taking and if the ‘polis bantuan’ (Auxiliary Police) at the next station could pick him for questioning.
However, she told me, she did not have the authority to do anything unless I send in an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. So, I just thought, if I was going to send an email on a Saturday night and the officer in charge would only open it on Monday… You do the maths. How long would it take for that perp to do things with my photos? What if he distributes the photos among his friends? What if he uses my photos for indecent purposes at night involving his hideous genitals?
So, came Monday, I shared the story with two colleagues. Both were shocked and asked me if I took the perp’s photo or video as evidence. Naturally, my reaction was simple, “I thought, reporting to the right authority was the right thing to do. I mean, taking unsolicited photos of someone is a crime, isn’t it?”
Then, my younger colleague, Izzul told me, “You know, nowadays, it takes something to go viral before actions can be taken against the perpetrators”. That was when he told me about the recent incident about a burger stall operator who went viral when he lodged a report against a few illegal gambling operators in Sungai Buloh.
So, later that night I watched the two videos that went viral and I honestly couldn’t believe what has been happening in Malaysia. But let’s not go there, it’s not my place to say. But if my home country is no longer safe with all these illegal gambling activities, then I suppose, nobody will find my case at all important.
Tips for Women when Taking a Public Transport (or wherever you may be) as shared by Izzul Naim
- Always be on the lookout when in public places
- Don’t be afraid to step up and confront someone if you feel threatened
- Always keep your phone on standby mode to snap photos or record videos just to be safe.
- Get someone around you to help if things get worse
So, ladies, don’t be afraid to protect yourselves! Do better than me!