Commuter racially abused twice on two trains for not wearing a mask

Tamanna Miah, from Sevenoaks in Kent, was abused on two services to and from London last week when passengers reacted to her not wearing a face mask for health reasons

A train commuter who endured a vile tirade of racial abuse on two journeys for not wearing a mask said she is “shocked but not surprised”.

Tamanna Miah, from Sevenoaks in Kent, was abused on journeys to and from London last week when fellow passengers reacted to her lack of a face covering.

The 27-year-old, who wishes to be known as Tam, works as a consultant for several charities, Kent Live reports.

She says she is exempt from wearing a facemask for mental health and physical reasons.

But, despite wearing her identifying lanyard she received abuse and has expressed her disappointment that Southeastern staff did not act on her behalf.

Last Thursday, Tam was undertaking a journey she had taken many times before from Sevenoaks to Charing Cross.

However, while sitting on the train she became aware that two passengers behind her were targeting her with vile abuse.

She explained: “I was reading my paper and minding my own business. I wasn’t wearing a mask as I have physical and mental health issues which makes me exempt.

“I carry a sunflower lanyard which shows that I have these disabilities.

“There were two older men sitting behind me talking very loudly and making rude comments.

“He was trying to pretend it was a conversation with his friend but I knew he wanted everyone to hear.

“He was labelling me as a Punjab, which I’m not, and he was discriminating towards me and the people that come from that area by saying that ‘we’ don’t wear face masks.

“He was essentially blaming ethnic minorities for the spread of the virus.”

While Tam was being subjected to this disgusting abuse, she noticed that although other passengers were aware of what was going on, none had spoken up.

This she says, is an all too common scenario.

She said: “I looked around and saw that there were no other ethnic minorities in my carriage so they had to be talking about me.

“Everyone on the train was listening but nobody was doing anything

“I was shocked but not surprised.

“I hate to say it but I’m used to it. I’ve had abuse before and people don’t intervene, they just watch. I think it’s because they’re fearful or they think it’s not their business to get involved.”

Shockingly it was not to be the last time Tam would receive unwarranted and racially motivated abuse that week.

On her return journey back from Charing Cross the next day (September 24), she was again accosted by a passenger who took umbrage with her lanyard.

She said: “The day after, I was coming back to Sevenoaks.

“A lady got on the train and started abusing and shouting at me for not wearing a mask.

“I showed her my lanyard and said I was exempt, so she started screaming and shouting at me and telling me that anyone could get one.

“I told her if she was going to carry on abusing me I was going to report her.

“She started egging me on and telling me to do it.”

Tam left the train and approached a member of staff to report the abuse.

However, she says their response wasn’t adequate.

She said: “I got off the train and told a member of platform staff I was receiving abuse from this person and they said they couldn’t do anything about it.

“I got back on the train and asked the conductor for help and he told me to sit down.”

After twice reporting her abuse and receiving no help, Tam admits that the precedent has disappointed her.

She said: “I’m getting really sick and tired of constantly getting abuse. I’ve reported both these incidents and they’ve apologised but essentially they can’t really do much.

“As an ethnic minority and a human being I just don’t deserve this at all.

“It’s not the first time nothings been done, it makes victims wonder why they should report these things if nobody is going to do anything about it.”

A Southeastern spokesman said: “We are really sorry to hear about this incident, and know just how distressing it would have been.

“We are doing all we can to remind people of the legal requirement to wear a face covering while making it very clear that some people are exempt.

“No one should suffer abuse while travelling on the railway and we take it very seriously indeed.

“We don’t have all the details of what happened in this case, and would urge passengers to contact the British Transport Police by text on 61016 if they have been the victim of abuse.”