Women-Only Subway Cars in Beijing?

Photo Credit: Associated Press

Photo Credit: Associated Press

Beijing may join places like Japan, Brazil, India, and Mexico, in having women-only modes of public transportation. In their case, it would be subway cars.

Like the initiatives in the other countries, trying to cut down on men’s harassment of women is a key reason for the separate cars. The cars would be open to children and the elderly too, because the second reason for the separate cars is to help these groups of people make it onto overly crowded trains. A survey conducted last November at one particularly busy station found that 50 percent of the 200 female respondents reported having difficulties getting on to subway cars due to the crowds.

From China Daily:

“‘We can trial women-only carriages on subway lines 1 and 2 between 7:30 and 8:30 am and from 5:30 to 6:30 pm,’ Wang told China Daily yesterday. The middle carriage could be set aside for women, with its exterior painted with eye-catching signs and the interior posted with a detailed explanation and warnings about sexual harassment, Wang said. Staff should also be deployed to advise women about the issues, he said. And he called for surveillance cameras to be installed to deter harassment and said children traveling alone and senior citizens should also be allowed to use the special carriages.”

“Chen Yu, a regular subway user, questioned whether the idea would work. ‘The fundamental reason for the overcrowding is the huge population wanting to use the subway. If all women swarm to that carriage, it will be hard to get on that one as well,’ Chen said.

The proposal will be online at www.beijing.gov.cn, www.bjzx.gov.cn/zhu.htm, and other official websites to solicit public opinion on the idea soon.

I wonder what the figures are for the harassment of women since the article didn’t cite any. I also question the viability of the initiative, though I appreciate that officials are trying to address the issues of harassment and overcrowding. What are your thoughts?

3 Responses to Women-Only Subway Cars in Beijing?

  1. daninespencer says:

    In 1996, I was on a VERY crowded subway in Mexico City. It was packed to the gills and some guy took the opportunity to feel me up from behind.

    This is an interesting concept.

  2. kymberlydawn says:

    I happened upon a women-only carriage in Cairo. Was so refreshing. I think its a fantastic concept.

    In a certain way I see it as publicly shaming the gender of men who harass by saying “your degenerative behavior has caused our community to resort to this measure”.

    This segregation is okay in that it gives privilege to those threatened, but we would not want it to go as far as to become a back-of-the-bus situation for either sex.

    A great idea for cities, though unfortunate reality.

  3. Danine – I’m so sorry you got groped. No one should have that happen.

    Kymberly – Thanks for sharing, I haven’t spoken to or heard from anyone who has used a women-only form of public transportation before you!

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