The NYTimes reports that in India, gender-based street harassment (or eve teasing) is so bad that the government has instituted a pilot program for eight new commuter trains exclusively for female passengers in India’s four largest cities: New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Calcutta. They are called “Ladies Specials” and offer women relief from harassing men. (view a slideshow from NYTimes)
Gender-based harassment of women on public transportation is widespread. There are many countries that have instituted women-only subway or train cars, buses, or taxi cab services because so many girls and women are groped and harassed by men.
For example, some cities in Thailand, Mexico, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan, and UAE have women-only buses.
Japan, Brazil, Egypt, Iran, Mexico, and South Korea are examples of countries with women-only subway cars in their major cities.
In some places in England, Russia, Australia, Lebanon, Iran, India, and the UAE, there are women-only taxi cabs with women drivers.
In the U.S., transit systems in NYC, Boston and Chicago are all struggling to deal with high rates of harassment. Both NYC and Boston have anti-harassment PSAs on some of their subway cars.
Women-only cars are only a band aid fix that does not fix the overall problem of men harassing women. Men will still harass them on the platform, in mixed car trains, on streets, in parks, etc. Separate cars can make women who can’t access women-only cars seem like fair game for harassing men. In Tokyo, which has women-only subway cars, there were 2,000 groping cases reported last year, 30% were of teenage girls. The crime is underreported, so imagine how much higher the figure may be. Again, Tokyo HAS women-only cars. This is not a solution.
Men must be taught to respect women and not see them as available for comment, touching, following, and assault when they are in public simply because they are female. Check out what Blank Noise is doing to address eve teasing in India (they aren’t advocating for separate train cars for women and men).