As a measure against sexual harassment and safety of female commuters in an some overcrowded Chinese cities, the government in Shenzhen has commenced a test run of women-only subway cars.
A large number of netizens criticized the separation of male and female passengers, calling it a waste of resources.
The trial run will be the first of its kind around the country although it’s already being implemented in Brazil, Indonesia, Japan, Mexico, Iran, Egypt, India, the UAE, Philippines, Malaysia, and a few others.
According to a report from NetEase, Shenzhen municipal committee confirmed the plan is in progress, adding that about two or three lines will be selected for an initial test before a city-wide implementation.
The marked trains will serve only women during rush hours.
However, this new regulation which comes from a bill passed by Guangdong’s Political Consultative member Su Zhongyang (苏忠阳) , will permit men to board together with their women folks only after the busiest hours, as stipulated by law.
The bill titled “Regarding Setting up Women-Only Carriages on Guangzhou’s Metro Lines (关于广州地铁设立女性专用车厢),” argues that female passengers are prone to sexual molestation in overcrowded trains during peak hours.
Su Zhongyang said in his defense, “There may be too many people inside a train during rush hour, making body contact between passengers inevitable. This can be tricky as it might instigate sexual harassment.”
The proposal was tested in an online survey, and surprisingly, respondents admitted that about 82% of women have suffered sexual harassment on the metro.
Zhongyang, a politician and head of a Guangzhou-based company, noted that about 22% believed women are frequently violated on the trains, especially during summer when skimpy dresses, bum shorts and nudity are widely embraced as the trending dress code.
“The issue is more serious during Guangzhou’s summer,” Zhongyang said.
“During the long summers many women wear shorts and are more vulnerable to sexual harassment.”
What’sOnWeibo explained further that a statistical report from Guangzhou’s Public Security Bureau (PSB) proves the Zhongyang’s bill has come to rid the province of a growing menace.
From 2015 till date, the PSB has recorded a total of 74 cases of sexual harassment despite the fact that CoMET [Community of Metro, a global organization joined by 32 major metro operators worldwide] says Guangzhou has the lowest rate of such incidents.
A large number of Chinese citizens have protested against the gender equality moves. Critics are calling it a vote of confidence on women’s rights which clearly discriminate against the male folks.
Some called the new bill a Westernization of Chinese culture.
A total of 60% out of the respondents are against the new metro bill despite efforts from the government to sensitize people.
“What’s next? Should we tell women not to leave the house in order to protect their safety?” one commenter on Weibo asked.
Another one wrote, “Segregating women from men is not the way to solve the problem of sexual harassment.”
One aspect of the all-female subway trains which seem to have wide support is “having a special entrance and space for pregnant women.”
A staff of Guangzhou metro said in a statement that the strict feminist law will result in a “waste of traffic” if the number of women using such trains is less than average. This, he argued, will lead to congestion on other carriages.
Chairman of Guangdong Political Consultative Conference, Wang Rong, spoke to the media about this controversial initiative saying: “Adding women-only carriages will have a significant impact on issues such as public transport and citizens’ rights. And, most importantly, it may help to boost the image of our city – it shows our care for humanity and for a civilized society.”
Video taken in 2013 shows Beijing’s congested metro traffic during peak hours.