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Blind Woman Reports Sexual Harassment by "Call and Ride" Driver

[San Juan, Puerto Rico. August 29, 2022] Since 2019, Alba Toro Rivera, a blind woman, has been calling on the Metropolitan Bus Authority to attend promptly, rigorously and with dignity to her complaint about sexual harassment committed against her by one of the drivers of the "Llame y Viaje" (Call and Ride) program. Alba has exhausted all reasonable resources for the AMA and other agencies charged with ensuring a safe, protected and free space from sexual advances to take the necessary and urgent measures to handle these cases. This harassment is even more violent, because it is a woman who, due to her visual impairment, is unable to know if her stalker is close, but when she hears her voice, which implies that she is close enough to reach her physically.

As in other manifestations of gender violence, in this case the driver increased the severity of his transgression against Alba when he was in the official vehicle of the service for people with disabilities and old people, because it is transport adapted for these purposes. The most alarming thing about this situation is the indifference with which the administration, the top management of the AMA, the Office of the Attorney General for Women, and other agencies have dismissed the seriousness of sexual harassment and, As a result, the impunity with which the harassers reign when a complaint is submitted in the government of Puerto Rico.

But Alba is not alone. After seeing how the procedure implemented by the AMA since Alba denounced this outrage is insufficient, we know that Alba would not be in a safe space; she has been assigned to her harasser on four occasions, three of them since March 2022. If the AMA cannot guarantee Alba’s safety, the entire society is called to prevent it from becoming another case of gender violence, such as the thousands that register in Puerto Rico annually.

That’s why we’re Alba’s eyes.

Faced with the vague response that forces Alba to face again the trauma of the transport its harasser, the AMA violates the rule of law, which requires employers to count on and implement the policy against sexual harassment. We join Alba in her complaint so that any sexual harassment complaint is investigated and dealt with expeditiously by the AMA, and that this process complies with all the requirements established by law. In addition, we demand that each driver/driver/driver be regularly trained on public policy against sexual harassment, without euphemisms, calling the problem by its name, especially if they are complained drivers. We demand that those who direct and manage the Call and Travel program take all necessary actions to send an unequivocal message that the agency repudiates any constitutive practice in sexual harassment and that it guarantee a safe space for people with disabilities, old people and all people who use the service of any manifestation of discrimination.

The dignity of human beings is inviolable. This government administration and the agencies called to ensure the rights of its citizens/ as, must assume their ministerial duties and comply with the statutes that guarantee the rights of the people. It is urgent, particularly in the crisis of gender violence that we have been suffering for years.

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