India Introduces Women-Only Commuter Trains
India has introduced eight commuter trains reserved only for women passengers in response to increasing amounts of harassment by women on trains. Women-only trains, called Ladies Specials, will run in the cities of New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Calcutta as part of a pilot program, reports the New York Times.
Increasing complaints from women who had experienced catcalls, taunts, and groping from male passengers led the Railway Ministry to create the expanded Ladies Specials system, which was first introduced in 1992 with two trains in Mumbai. Mala Bhandari, who leads an Indian women's advocacy group, told the New York Times that incidents of harassment have increased as more women enter the workforce and commute to urban jobs. "Now that women have started occupying public spaces, issues will always arise. And the first issue is security," she stated.
While passengers on the women-only trains have expressed gratitude for the peaceful commute, some men have protested the special treatment for women. Experts acknowledge that sex-segregated trains are only a temporary solution. Dr. Ranjari Kumari, director of the Center for Social Research, told the New York Times, "You really need to make every train as safe as the Ladies Specials."
Several nations around the world have introduced women-only transportation in recent years in an effort to combat harassment. For example in 2006, Middle East Online announced that the Iranian capital of Tehran was introducing women-only minivans, and the Associated Press reported that women-only buses would commence operation in one of Brazil's largest cities.
Media Resources: New York Times 9/15/09; Middle East Online 4/10/06; Associated Press 11/17/06; Feministing 9/17/09