Indonesian Women only commuter train in Jakarta: Image by The Telegraph

Author: Mary  Mwangi, Flone Initiative program manager.

Recently, there has been ongoing discussions on women only mode of transport in several cities and countries across the world. This discussion made me ask, will female only transport system be a solution to sexual harassment in public spaces?

Although may tend to believe that it will, I tend to differ.  I feel that introduction of female only transport systems will only create a new form of gender inequality.  I feel it is high time we worked on strategies to ensure that men and women co-exist peacefully and respectively regardless of their sex. We may come up with female only transport system but will that stop sexual harassment or only postpone it to when we alight from the matatu, plane or the bus?

In some countries, Airport authorities thought setting up female-only checkpoints was a good way to promote efficiency and enhance privacy of female passengers. They argue it safeguards privacy and avoids embarrassing female travelers when their luggage items are being checked by a male staff. I feel that all this goes against gender equality and is a form of sex-based discrimination and the airports authorities are placing more importance on efficiency than equality.

It is very important to develop better transport facilities that care for the safety and comfort of women and girls, pregnant women and children. But we also need to come up with initiative that train men to be protectors of women, girls and children instead of being their worst nightmare. Additionally, by developing female only transport system we may be assuming that all men are dangerous and in the process separate a father from her daughter in a vehicle or a train, or a wife and her husband, this is just but a few example.  I undoubtedly support sex segregation in bathrooms, locker rooms, showers, and similar spaces, based on a need for privacy.

Therefore, I suggest instead of introducing women-only carriages we ought to develop city systems that are conducive to the cultivation of respect amongst the public towards women and girls by increasing social civilization and humanitarian care.

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