A commuter was recently molested, stalked and groped in an MRT station and to her horror, received very little help from commuters and even the station control.
On Wednesday (12 Sept), Facebook user Karmen Siew was on the train when a man next to her brushed his hand against her thigh. Thinking it was accidental, she crossed her legs in an attempt to create more distance between herself and the guy.
However, he moved closer to her and intentionally brushed against her. After moving even further away, the man again brushes against her and she has to move one seat down.
Thankfully, she reached her stop at Serangoon MRT station and left the train. Unfortunately, the perpetrator gets up and follows her out. She immediately panics, thinking the guy is stalking her and sends out a call for help on a group chat.
While on the escalator, she finds him behind her and he gropes her butt and runs his finger between her buttcheeks, along the line of her private parts.
Horrified, she turned around and screamed but nobody did anything.
I’m so fucking angry right now.
So I was on the train. And this fucker next to me brushes his hand against my thigh. I’m like ok. Maybe it was accidental. So I cross my right leg over my left to create space between us. He inches in and intentionally brushes against me. I squeeze my legs into the far corner of the seat, and he inches in and brushes against me AGAIN. I stand up and move one seat down.
Next stop’s mine. I get off, dude follows. At this point I panic and think he’s gonna stalk me. I text a group chat for help. Next thing I know, I’m on the escalator and he gropes my butt.
“FUCKING HELL!!!!” I yelled, facing him, but seeing far too much red to notice the details of his face, and everyone stared and did nothing.
In an attempt to catch the perpetrator, Karmen runs to the control station where there are two men on duty. She names them as ‘MRT Guy 1’ and ‘MRT Guy 2’ in her Facebook post. She asks them to help her to stop the man from leaving.
At this point, the perpetrator has not tapped out of the station yet. Rather, he is briskly walking towards the gantry which technically could have been blocked to prevent his escape and led to his arrest immediately.
No one does anything and the MRT staff are clearly confused about what they should be doing. Furthermore, they claim that protocol prevents them from giving chase and nabbing the guy themselves.
One of them however does call the police at MacPherson. However, as its late and there is only one officer for dispatch, they can’t get to her until at least 30 minutes later. Even then, all they can do is take down her report.
At this point, the perpetrator has left the station.
I dash to the control station, and the asshole isn’t even tapped out yet. (MRT Guy 2, who had to be on duty elsewhere, later says that yes, the gantry could have been blocked, to which MRT Guy 1 keeps quiet.)
I point at the offender, who is not even running, but BRISK WALKING to the gantry, and very loudly exclaim to whomever is listening that he’s a molestor. I ask the station master (let’s call him MRT Guy 1) to stop him from exiting, do something.
NO ONE AT THE GANTRY DOES ANYTHING. MRT GUY 1 OBVIOUSLY DOESN’T KNOW WHAT TO DO.
MRT Guy 1 doesn’t chase. He says it’s protocol, since he is the only one at the control station and can’t abandon his post. FINE. Instead goes on the phone – I think he’s getting security – but NO, HE CALLS THE POLICE, and not even the one at the nearest station!
DO YOU THINK I DON’T KNOW HOW TO RING THE FUCKING POLICE??? I HAVE SERANGOON NPC ON SPEED DIAL!
So great. The guy gets away. MRT Guy 2 arrives and puts me on the phone with the police. They say that because it’s late, they only have one guy available for dispatch, and guess what? He’s dispatched right now, so whomever’s coming can only be with me in 30 minutes. They ask if I actually need someone to be there. Naturally, I ask what the officer could do even if he came at this point. Take down my report, apparently. This is also when I find out that our genius, SM(A)RT Guy 1, called the MacPherson police, nowhere near us.
She then tries to get them to review the CCTV footage. However, to her horror, she finds that CCTV footage cannot be viewed in the station itself but only at a police station.
She was told to go down to the station herself to review the CCTV footage and to make a report.
The CCTVs can’t be watched at the MRT, but only at the police station. THEN WHAT IS THE DAMN POINT????
Apparently this happens at “other MRT stations”, but it’s the first time the staff actually saw it at Serangoon. SO? Ugh!
I’m THIS angry about the CCTV thing because of what happened with Xinn’s laptop all those years ago. The police came, eyeballed the CCTV and said, oh, because the guy’s wearing a cap, it’s too hard to identify him. So I tilted to the max when I saw that there was no chase and only CCTV.
MRT Guy 1 then passes me a thick wad of tissue. There are no tears in my eyes, not even now, because I’m not sad, I’m just REALLY FUCKING PISSED, not merely at the asshole who got away, but at the ineptitude of the people who are supposed to help, and the indifference of those who could. The only one I’m not angry with is MRT Guy 2, since it really wasn’t any of his fault.
They told me that I need to go down to the police station myself to review the report. It’s about a 15 minute walk away. I still have shit that needs doing tonight, and I don’t know how long the CCTV review will take, but damn it, I’m angry and I’m going right now. The other stuff can wait. I hope that piece of shit gets caught and gets rekt. Fuck today.
At about 1am, Karmen has reached the station and has realised that the police officers have heard nothing about the incident. However, they do offer her a female officer to report the incident to (which she declines) and then they proceed to take down her statement.
0101am: At the nearest police station. The officers heard nothing of the situation. I am asked if it’s too sensitive, if I need to speak to a female officer. I decline. Repeating my details again as of this timestamp. They called someone (transcomm?) who knows what happened and is coming down now.
Times I’ve been told ‘calm down’: 8 (all men)
0120am: Another officer has arrived. At last. As I recount what happened yet again for the fourth time (MRT staff, police on phone, police at station, officer who came later), I’m glad I have timestamps for every step of the way for CCTV checks later as I was on Carousell or messaging friends all throughout, and it was easy to find reference points.
By 2.19am, she leaves the station having recounted her story over four times to various different people. However, the police have been very through and didn’t jump to conclusions. They recorded everything properly and even asked her to sketch the perpetrator.
0219am: Left the station at last. No, I did not get to review the CCTV. Police-senpai was thorough, didn’t jump to conclusions and recorded everything properly, even saving my sketches. He said there’s a team that will get on it and I may be asked to ID the perp at a later date. Don’t know if I can sleep tonight.
0233am: Home safe. To my absolute glee, there is a parcel waiting for me. (Bless you, Lindzi and Thali, for this little spark of happiness to such a bad night.) I’m still not okay, but it certainly helped. ♥
0648am: Here’s to sleep, and fingers crossed the police are better at their job than the MRT staff. No, I don’t want him to be fired. I just want justice, a change in protocol, training system, staff that actually USE THEIR POSITION to help. Would he have opened the door and given chase if I were his wife, his girlfriend – protocol be damned? I think so.
At 9.30am the next day, Karmen receives a call from the police asking her for more details and they assure her that they can find him as the station was not crowded at that time.
0936am: Woken up by a call from the police. Sleepy, but good to know they’re on the job. They ask for my ezlink number — makes sense, they can trace the guy from there. Rehash a couple of details, especially the areas I’m fuzzy on. He says there’s a good chance they can find him as the station was not crowded. Another call comes in from another police station, I explain I’m already on the phone with an officer. Again, good to know they’re on the job.
She ended her post by saying that she hoped the perpetrator would get caught but she also hoped this incident would serve to shed light on the ineffective protocols in train stations to protect commuters. She also hoped that the incident would spur people to help if they see someone in trouble instead of just standing by and watching.
1020am: Thanks for all the messages, here and PMed, friends. I appreciate all of you, I am seriously touched. I’m not so great with words right now, I’m running on low sleep. But seriously, I had no idea so many of you went through the same, especially on the MRT! There are so many silent victims. Some of you know self-defense. But lots of you were either too shocked/outraged/stunned to react. I completely understand.
A few of you asked to share, so I’m going to chance it. It’s public now.
I wanted to keep it to friends at first, but to all of you for whom this has happened on the train, at the station, to MRT Guy 2 who says it’s the first time in his 3 years at Serangoon… it’s not. It’s happened before. But action did not. Also, all those ads on buses and trains that go ‘speak up if you’re molested’? Ha. Ha. Ha.
1745pm: No further updates from the police yet. To clarify a few things:
1) Not an accident. The bastard actually ran his finger between my buttchecks, along the line of my private parts.
2) It didn’t occur to me to scream molest in that very instant. I was too outraged and swore as a knee-jerk reaction. I swear at cockroaches all the time too. We were on the up-riding escalator and it did occur to me that I could have pushed him down, but there were people behind him and I didn’t want to risk an accident with those uninvolved. When I reached the top, I ran straight for help instead of blocking the escalator.
3) I didn’t chase after him as I was in slippers, carrying two heavy bags full of stuff I’d just bought over Carousell, and I’ve always failed my NAPFA. I’m neither strong nor fast, even without handicaps, so I thought that the station master was a better bet. Hitting him with the bags only occurred to me as an option when I reached the control station. My brain was all jerky and not working straight.
2127pm: I have been informed that Serangoon station’s purple line is run by SBS Transit Ltd, and that SMRT runs the orange line. The entire incident happened on the purple line.
2318pm: It would be super awesome if the police can nab him. But in any case, I hope that the train staff step up their game. Whether they’re from SBS or SMRT, there should be two people in the control station at all times if that’s what’s stopping them. They should know what to do in the event of an emergency.
It’s not about bravery. The expletives. The what-ifs. If it means that after reading this, a victim won’t keep quiet after something happens to them, if it means that after reading this, a bystander will do something if they observe a situation happening, if it means that after reading this, a pervert thinks twice, then yes, this post means something.
Her post, which has since been shared 315 times, garnered many comments with many people recounting their own incidents of molest.
If you see someone getting molested or harassed, it is everyone’s duty to try to help even if you feel your attempt to help might be small. Don’t stand by and watch things happen.
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