Virtual reality campaign to tackle sexual harassment launched at Birmingham New Street

The VR film aims to help people to recognise when sexual harassment is taking place and empower them to intervene. Credit: Rail Delivery Group

People in Birmingham are being urged to call out sexual harassment, with help from a new virtual reality film.

The immersive film aims to show passengers at Birmingham New Street station how to recognise and combat sexual harassment on the railway.

Seven in ten women say they have experienced sexual harassment in a public space, according to the latest survey commissioned by UN Women UK.

Meanwhile, 85% said they would feel relieved if someone intervened when they were experiencing sexual harassment - and the new film gives the message that a small action can make a big difference.

It shows how interventions, such as asking the victim if they'd like to swap seats or distracting the perpetrator with a question, can prevent the situation from escalating.

Jacqueline Starr, Chief Executive of the Rail Delivery Group which launched the campaign, said: “As an industry, we are actively tackling all forms of sexual harassment and are committed to making our passengers feel safe when onboard.

“By showcasing the ground-breaking VR experience in stations across the country we’re equipping people with tips on how to safely intervene in situations as a bystander without putting themselves in harm’s way.

"Whether you see it or experience it, we ask everyone to report anything that makes you uncomfortable to British Transport Police by texting 61016 or using the Railway Guardian app. Passengers using Britain’s railways have a right to feel safe and confident to call out these behaviours without fear.”

Detective Chief Inspector Nia Mellor, from British Transport Police, says educating people in recognising all forms of sexual harassment is particularly important. She said "Thankfully, the rail network in this country is incredibly safe, but sadly we do know that incidents go on every day. I think because of that lack of awareness of what actually constitutes sexual harrassment, we haven't known the true picture for a long time, so this campaign really is about encouraging the awareness; it's encouraging the reporting, so that we can support people who do experience this".

Jess Phillips, MP for Birmingham Yardley and Shadow Minister for Domestic Violence and Safeguarding, attended the launch event at Birmingham New Street station on Monday 16 October.

She said: “This campaign is important. Everyone has the right to feel safe on our railways and everyone has the right to feel safe when they try to protect others. That’s what civilised society is about.”

"It's important because of the decisions that women and girls go on to make".

"If women have to change the way they behave, they limit their opportunities because they have to do the job of keeping them safe".

It's hoped the new film will educate people to recognise how these kinds of situations occur and empower them to intervene in a safe and effective way.