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Women-Only Buses Welcomed in Mexico

February 12, 2008 11:59 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Harassment and discrimination on public transportation are nothing new for many women. Governments around the world have separated men and women passengers.

30-Second Summary

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Mexico City has started a women-only bus line to protect female passengers from harassment, a common occurrence on the city’s public transportation.

According to frequent complaints, men use overcrowded public spaces as an excuse to leer at and touch women inappropriately.

“They try to touch you. They don’t give you a seat. Where are the gentlemen?” bus-rider Mariana Vazquez, 30, told The New York Times.

Japan has used ladies-only cars for some time as part of its effort to curb the widespread practice of bottom pinching.

In India, the sexual harassment of women in public even has a special name—“eve teasing,” a euphemism that makes the practice sound innocuous.

But there is nothing harmless about the anxiety women feel in public spaces, according to a report by the Toronto-based Metropolitan Action Committee on Violence against Women and Children.

The report finds that even in one of the safer metropolises in the world a majority of women fear public spaces. The prevalence of recent news stories about the issue suggests they have good reason to be anxious.

A woman in Israel was assaulted by ultra-Orthodox Jewish men last October after she refused to move from her seat and go to the back of the bus.

But not everyone is happy about the introduction of women-only buses and train cars.

Critics say they amount to segregation, and women’s rights groups see them as a step backwards.

Commentator Lynn Harris calls the use of female-only cars “a paternalistic band-aid that ‘protects’ women, insults men and ultimately lets gropers off the hook.”

Headline Link: ‘On Single-Sex Buses, Relief From Unwanted Contact’

Background: Women in public transportation are harassed worldwide

Opinions: ‘Eve teasing’ and ‘rape parks’

Analysis: Women-only transportation is welcomed and seen as segregation

Reference: METRAC report

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