Kiss attack not sexual harassment say Vienna police

Kiss attack not sexual harassment say Vienna police
Johannes Zinner/Wiener Linien
A 27-year-old woman who was kissed on the mouth by a stranger on Vienna’s underground has been left fuming after the police said the incident was not sexual harassment.

Iryna L. says that she was on her way to work on Monday when a man sitting near her on the train on the U1 line started stroking her hand. When she said stop, he then kissed her on the mouth.

“It happened very quickly. He sat near me in the full carriage and stroked my hand. I cried out ‘stop’ and moved myself to another seat, he tapped me on the shoulder, pulled me to him and kissed me on the mouth,” she said.

She then hit him with her bag and the man fled the train at the next stop.

Iryna said that barely anyone on the train came to her assistance. “Two men just stared stupidly, a woman advised me to call the police,” she says.

When the police took her to the station, however, they said that because it was a kiss, it was not a case of sexual harassment and she was just giving a police confirmation of the incident that she could show her employer.

“There could possibly be a fine for breaching the peace,” a police spokesperson confirmed to Heute newspaper.

The Vienna city authorities say, however, that sexual harassment “denotes undesired advances or behaviour which in general transgresses personal boundaries and is debasing and humiliating for the woman concerned”.

A publication about safety for women authored by the city’s executive councillor for women’s issues Sandra Frauenberger says that, among other things, sexual harassment includes obtrusive behaviour and undesired sexual touch.