Unreported cases worrying

The number of reported molest cases on public transport may just be the tip of the iceberg.

According to an article published last week, 42 cases were reported in the first three months of the year.

This is up from 29 for the same period last year, police figures show.

The concern is that many cases go unreported.

In an informal poll of 50 women, 32 per cent said they felt they were touched inappropriately on public transport, but none of them made a report.

Many cite being afraid to speak up, lack of confidence that appropriate action can be taken and uncertainty as to whether the encounter was deliberate as reasons.

"Sometimes you falter despite knowing that something bad has happened, because you don't want to make a scene.

"If he denies it, it will be very difficult and you wonder it was because it's so crowded," says a 32-year-old public relations manager.

"But I wonder if some idiots use the crowd as an excuse to be perverts," she says with a shrug.

Bus ridership rose to 3.4 million a day last year, up by 3.4 per cent from 2012. For trains, ridership rose 3.9 per cent to 2.62 million a day.

Responding to queries by TNPS, deputy chairman of the Government Parliamentary Committee for Transport, Mr Seng Han Thong, said that unreported cases are "definitely a concern".

"When victims don't report cases, it makes the culprit more daring," he adds.

He wants to see more efforts at making the severe repercussions of their actions known to potential offenders.

"We need to make it known that the punishment for outrage of modesty is severe. (Offenders) are taking their chances, but they will be caught red-handed eventually."

Ms Jolene Tan, a spokesman for the women-advocacy group Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) said they were concerned that women were unwilling to step forward to report these instances.

"We need to do better as a society to reassure victims that they will not be blamed or judged for sexual assault, but instead given the support they need, as the fear of judgment or negativity is often a deterrent to reporting."

She adds: "It is also worth considering campaigns that don't target victims, but instead communicate to potential perpetrators that their behaviour is unacceptable and will not be tolerated by others."

Those who commit outrage of modesty against people above 18 years old carries a maximum penalty of a two-year jail term, a fine and caning.

The maximum jail term rises to five years if the victim is below 18.

Reported molest cases 156

2013 - 154

2012 - 114