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Southeastern forced to remove sexist ‘safety’ poster across 70 stations

Southeastern has been forced to remove a “safety” poster campaign across 70 stations after it was rightly branded as sexist by MPs.

The poster, somehow intended to promote safety, featured an edited close-up of a woman’s behind in a pair of jeans with a caption that read: “Good for sitting, squeezing and shaking. Don’t bruise it. Please take extra care in wet weather conditions. Love every bit of you.”

The sexist poster sparked an outrage amongst politicians, with Teresa Pearce, MP for Erith And Thamesmead, telling the Evening Standard she was shocked by its content. She emailed Southeastern to complain and ordered an investigation into how it was allowed to be published in the first place.

She added: “Women face sexual abuse and harassment every day on public transport, and it was appalling to see that Southeastern think that it is okay to trivialise it in this way.

“Southeastern have promised to remove them but they need to investigate how this was ever given the green light and deemed appropriate.”

Tooting’s MP, Sadiq Khan, Labour’s candidate to run for the London mayoralty, backed Pearce after voicing concerns on Twitter over the awful poster at Ladywell station.

He also told the paper: “This kind of sexist advertising has absolutely no place on London’s transport network.

“I’m pleased the poster is now being taken down, but it’s ridiculous it was put up in the first place.”

Southeastern’s asinine move comes just a couple of months after the British Transport Police revealed that, despite an overall fall in crime in the rail network over the last year, sexual offences and violent crime had both increased.

Despite attempts to launch campaigns aimed at empowering people – namely women – to report instances of sexual offences on trains and on the Tube, these crimes had soared by more than 25%. And this only includes incidences of abuse that were actually reported.

It is advertisements like Southeastern’s – unashamedly objectifying its own passengers and recommending the very non-consensual touching that most women have experienced on public transport at least once – that clarify why this issue is still a significant concern for national authorities.

But a spokesman from the operator said the poster was intended to be, of course, “harmless” and aimed at drawing attention to safety issues, particularly trips and falls during wet weather – which, in fairness, did comprise almost half of the poster’s content.

He said: “This poster was put to an independent panel, which included both women and women, who approved it before it was used. We since recognise that to some it may cause offence and have taken appropriate action by removing it.”

While we don’t hear back from the investigation into this independent panel, which will probably never happen, here are some other examples of safety campaigns that don’t rely on misogyny to get the point across:


Al   16/10/2015 at 11:32

Hang on - isn't a 25% increase in the reported instances of crimes a reflection of the success of the campaign to increase reporting, rather than bad news regarding the "soaring" number of offences?

Alex   16/10/2015 at 12:17

Two questions - how do you know that is a woman's behind in the poster (I don't see any reference in the poster to women), and why does this article say 'the investigation into the panel will probably never happen' when the article doesn't refer to any investigation into the panel?

Luana Salles   16/10/2015 at 12:54

Hi Alex, Nobody "knows" for sure, but it would be naive to assume otherwise, considering the context of the poster's content. The 'investigation into the panel' was referring to the fact that Pearce ordered an investigation into how the poster was allowed to be published. Since the independent panel was responsible for giving it the go ahead, the investigation would therefore be into them. Either way, this is a blog post and not a news article, meaning that it is intended to be opinionated rather than impartial like the rest of RTM's content.

Robin S Wickenden   19/10/2015 at 22:05

You say that this is meant to be an opinionated blog post, and not an impartial news article. Why, then, is its link phrased like a news headline, and included under the "News Roundup", with true news headlines directly above and below it? That is a highly irresponsible piece of journalism by your layout / editorial team. Furthermore, thus purports to be a Rail TECHNOLOGY Magazine; what has this item (and frankly, most of your others) to do with technology? It is becoming ever clearer that RTM has become a platform for railway-related politics, and perhaps even a left-wing / trade union mouthpiece, and not a technology publication at all. I think I'll stop bothering with this drivel and read Railway Engineer instead.

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