WATCH: Vancouver woman takes to Twitter to document unwanted touching on public transit

Click to play video: 'Transit-user draws attention to regular sexual harassment'
Transit-user draws attention to regular sexual harassment
WATCH: A Metro Vancouver woman has taken to social media to bring attention to what she says is the regular sexual harassment she suffers on the transit system. Nadia Stewart has the story – Mar 16, 2017

A Vancouver woman is taking to social media to document what she says are repeated cases of sexual harassment and unwanted touching on public transit.

Twenty-eight-year-old Melissa Bedford, who works as a director behind the scenes at Global BC, says she’s often a victim on her commute to work.

Too often, Bedford says she’s dealing with sexual harassment and incidents of unwanted touching.

“[It happens] every two days or so,” Bedford said. “When someone is touching you, you have to branch off and think — are they touching me on purpose or are they not touching me on purpose? [Sometimes] they’re touching your butt or something and you turn around and it’s a man every single time.”
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The incidents Bedford has experienced have not been reported to Translink, but she’s begun documenting them using Twitter name @GropedGirl.

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“More and more often, women are having to resort to strategic ways to hold men accountable,” said rape crisis worker Samantha Grey.

A campaign launched by the transit authority in November put the onus on the perpetrator — with messaging like “Unwanted touching is a crime. Keep your hands to yourself.”

READ MORE: New poster campaign aims to stop sexual assaults on Metro Vancouver transit

“It’s time to speak directly to the offenders or would-be offenders and to let them know it’s not OK to assault women or harass them in any way,” Transit Police Chief Doug Lepard said during the launch.

Sexual violence on transit systems is rarely reported, but transit police said the first phase of the campaign — an active texting feature — has led to an increase in calls.

Transit police said they solve about two-thirds of all reported sex offences on SkyTrain and high-quality video surveillance on every car and platform has made it easier to track offenders.

But Grey says the incidents of unwanted touching go beyond TransLink and public transit safety, and speak to unaddressed and long debated societal problems.

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“It really speaks to that general attitude towards women and male access to women’s bodies,” said Grey. “That consent is irrelevant, that women’s bodies are up for grabs. Men get these images from pornography and it bleeds into real life.”

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