Would you intervene if you saw a woman being assaulted on public transport?

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When misogynoir meets the bystander effect

by Guilaine Kinouani

Would you intervene if you saw a woman being assaulted on public transport?

What if she was a Black woman being assaulted by a Black man?

The ‘bystander effect’ is often used as an explanation for the absence of intervention or helping behaviours when people are victimised in crowds. The theory posits that in emergency situations the number of bystanders diffuses responsibility and renders individuals less likely to get involved because they expect someone else to step in. As is the case for many women like me, I imagine, I experienced these dynamics first hand when I was assaulted on a train.

It was a few years ago. I was approached by a Black man on one of the circle line platforms at Baker Street station. He asked whether I was lost. I told him that I was not, smiled cursorily…

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