Monday, January 12, 2015

Women shouldn't need special train cars to avoid harassers. Men need to leave women in peace

From The Guardian UK:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jan/07/gender-segregated-transport-women-men-behaving-badly

Jessica ValentiWednesday 7 January 2015

If you would have told me as a subway-riding teenager that there was a women-only car on the Manhattan-bound N-train, I would have been thrilled because anything would have been better than the never-ending gauntlet of assgrabs and “hey babys” from adult men when I was 16. I’d even still hop on a single-sex train car today, if my morning was going poorly enough. But gender-segregated public transport can only help women for the length of one commute: sexual harassment isn’t limited to confined spaces and can’t be eliminated by buying an automobile, even if you can afford one.

This month, Kathmandu launched a women-only minibus service in part in response to of a World Bank survey showing that a quarter of young Nepalese women had experienced sexual harassment on public transport. Nepal isn’t the first country to resort to segregating the sexes as a way to to curb harassment on public transport: there are women-only train cars in Japan, India, Mexico, Brazil and more. Even the British have discussed the possibility of launching women-only train cars in the UK.
Women-only public spaces are a seductive idea: Finally, a respite from the never-ending groping, flashing, stares and inappropriate comments. But do we really want to send the message that it’s women who need special spaces to avoid harassers, rather than men who need to leave women in peace regardless of where we are?

If we’re really devolving to a gender segregated world, why stop at trains? Street harassment is a huge problem, so should we designate women-only city blocks where we can walk free from whistles and catcalls? The campus rape epidemic continues on, so should we create a national campaign urging parents to send girls solely to women’s colleges? Girls are more likely to be molested in homes where men live, so should we only allow lesbians and single moms to be parents?

Like other forms of violence prevention that put the onus on women to keep themselves safe, women-only transportation leaves openings for victim-blaming: If she didn’t want to get groped, why didn’t she take the lady car? In Delhi, where women-only train cars were introduced in 2010, women have already been criticized for not traveling in the women’s-only spaces.

I do understand why so many cities are implementing gender-segregated train cars: a national study released last year showed that most American women have experienced some form of street harassment; New York City’s Metropolitan Transit Authority has launched an anti-harassment campaign because of how widespread harassment is; and groping on public transportation remains a problem globally.

Complete article at:  http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/jan/07/gender-segregated-transport-women-men-behaving-badly

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