Boston mass-transit campaign helps commuters maintain their privacy

Using 300 ads on subway cars and buses, Boston authorities have launched a public awareness campaign against "upskirting."

Using 300 ads on subway cars and buses, Boston authorities have launched a public awareness campaign against "upskirting."

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, aided by the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, revealed the first sign last week featuring a woman riding public transportation. The sign reads, "You have a right to privacy. Secretly photographing a person’s private area is against the law."

The PSAs also encourage commuters to call 9-1-1 or use the "See Something. Say Something" smartphone app to report any suspicious behavior. According to an MBTA statement, transit police have fielded more than a dozen reported incidents of "upskirting" in the past three years.

The campaign also comes on the heels of Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) signing a law banning the practice in March. State lawmakers passed legislation prohibiting unwanted photography of a person’s "sexual or other intimate parts" days after the Supreme Judicial Court dismissed "peeping Tom" charges against a man accused of taking photos up women’s skirts on MBTA trolleys.

Under the law, "upskirting" is a misdemeanor, and it’s a felony to distribute the photos. Penalties are increased if the victim is a minor.

MBTA and Boston Area Rape Crisis Center representatives were not immediately available for comment.

Now that the law is spelled out in PSAs, commuters can hopefully have more peace of mind when traveling from point A to point B.

It’s also a valiant effort by local authorities, although it’s a message many people might think is obvious. Too often women are made to believe they should not and cannot leave the house in a certain outfit, and the previous law upheld in the aforementioned "Peeping Tom" case only perpetuated that.

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