Thursday, 27 August 2015

We do not need women-only carriages-here is why

Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn has recently called for the introduction of 'women-only' carriages on railway journeys to tackle the significant problem of street harassment on public transport, and some people are backing up this proposed initiative.

I do not believe this is a proper solution at all, however, to this problem.

First of all, many trains on major commuter routes, especially going to London, are simply too overcrowded to make the implementation of women-only carriages possible. Secondly, although the majority of street harassment is perpetrated by men, not all of it is, and only a minority of men actually engage in street harassment anyway. Thirdly, gender segregation on transport does not tackle the root causes behind the incidence of street harassment in daily life.

We should instead look at why there is a significant amount of street harassment occurring in the first place, why some people think street harassment is acceptable when it is not, raising awareness of what street harassment is and how it impacts peoples' daily lives, the factors that encourage some people to do this, and the way we as a society respond to incidents that construe street harassment.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Alan, thanks for your post.

    I don't agree with your conclusion, but let me start by saying I accept most of your points - you are correct that women-only carriages aren't a long term fix and don't deal with the root causes of harassment, you're right that in many cases it's completely impractical (trains with only 2 carriages, busy commuter trains etc wouldn't work) and right that the vast majority of men don't harass women.

    I applaud your idea of trying to tackle the causes of harassment, raising awareness and trying to change the way society responds to harassment.

    However, none of this acknowledges the fact that many women feel unsafe in certain situations *today*, and empowering train operators to designate carriages women-only on certain trains (night trains in particular) would help alleviate that stress.

    When my wife comes home late at night from the city, knowing there is a women-only car would be very reassuring.

    We could wait for the world to be a better place, or we could trial this easy-to-implement, short-term measure with a view to dealing with harassment properly in the longer term.

    It's not patronising to women because the experience of harassment by men is a genuine thing for a large proportion of women, and this particular solution doesn't involve the woman doing something that makes her 'weak' or relies on a 'big strong man' to rescue her.

    And it's not segregation because if a women doesn't want to use the women-only carriage, they can choose to sit anywhere else they like.

    As the BBC doco has shown this week it works alright in India!

    But always good to hear your view! I enjoy your blog.