An increase in reports of sexual assaults on the New York City subway system has been spurred in part by use of cell phone photos and videos, according to authorities and advocates who say that women can now use technological tools to help fight back against harassers. The city’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority created a website in 2014 for sexual misconduct complaints that allow passengers to upload photos of their attackers. In 2015, there were more than 500 reports of forcible touching and public lewdness, and 130 cases of sexual abuse, according to the New York Times. Officers in the department have been undergoing training for how to deal with sex crimes with the advocacy group Hollaback, which seeks to empower women to use their phones to stop harassment in public places, including cat calling on the street.
The uptick in reports comes amid a spike in subway violence in the city as well, with a string of recent reports of subway slashings. The worrying trend has spurred the return of the city’s Guardian Angels, a group of volunteer crime-fighters who wear red jackets and ride the subway to try and prevent violent incidents.