Commuter racially abused on two trains for not wearing a mask despite exemptions

A train commuter who suffered vile racist abuse during two journeys for not wearing a mask despite being exempt said she was “not surprised”.

Tamanna Miah, from Sevenoaks in Kent, met with a tirade of derogatory insults on board two train journeys to and from London last week for not wearing a face covering.

The 27-year-old, who works as a charity consultant, is exempt from wearing facemarks for mental and physical health reasons, KentLive reports.

But despite wearing a lanyard that identifies that fact, she was met with racist abuse from fellow passengers.

Tam said that she was on board a carriage from Sevenoaks to Charing Cross when other commuters began verbally insulting her.

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.

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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.”

And the abuse did not stop there, with another passenger targeting her on her way home the very next day on September 24.

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.

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"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 apologised over the incidents.

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

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