‘North African’ stranger’s Metro kiss on lips is not sexual harassment, police tell Vienna woman

Subway passengers use escalators during the rush hour at the subway station in Vienna © Leonhard Foeger
A young woman who was kissed by a stranger on the Vienna Metro on her way to work was shocked to learn from police officers that a kiss wasn’t an act of sexual harassment.

Iryna L., a 27-year-old manager, said she was on her way to work on Monday. Suddenly a man “of North African origin and approximately 25 years old” approached her and started stroking her hand. When she asked him to stop, the man kissed her.

“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, as cited by Austrian Heute newspaper. 

Iryna said she hit the attacker with her bag and he ran away.

However, the young woman saw little help from other people on the train.

“Two men just stared stupidly, a woman advised me to call the police,” she said.

At the police station, Iryna learnt from the officers that a kiss isn’t considered to be a form of sexual harassment.

Police spokesperson told Heute that officers requested a video of the attack from metro station, adding that “there could possibly be a fine for breaching the peace.”

However, Iryna is not going to let the ‘kiss’ case go. On Tuesday she said that she sent video of the events to investigators. "The court will decide if it was a case of sexual harassment,” she added.

Iryna said she had undergone a medical examination.

“… I still have to do a blood test to rule out any risk of infection… He [the man] should be punished because I'm afraid,” she told Heute.