Gender Exclusion

You know you are loved when many people send you the same newspaper article with subject lines: “must read” “what do you think?” “holla back…delhi?” Thank you! We feel the love and that means you all are reading us and seeing how this minor issue is a major issue, making the front pages of the New York Times.

The problems of taunting and harassment, known as eve teasing, are so persistent that in recent months the government has decided to simply remove men altogether. In a pilot program, eight new commuter trains exclusively for female passengers have been introduced in India’s four largest cities: New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Calcutta.

The trains are known as Ladies Specials, and on one recent round trip in which a male reporter got permission to board, the women commuting between the industrial town of Palwal and New Delhi were very pleased (emphasis added).

Well, after today’s experience, we can understand the sentiments expressed by the women on the Ladies Specials. Yet, we are curious to know what the men are thinking.

“The local boys will come and use the bathroom on the train,” said Meena Kumari, one of the female ticket collectors in flowing blue saris who patrol the train along with female security officers. “They do it out of contempt. They do not want the train to run.”…

“Even on this train,” Ms. Gahlot continued, “men sometimes board and try to harass the women. Sometimes they openly say, ‘Please close the Ladies Special.’

“Maybe they think the government is helping out women and not men,” she added. [Link]

Now, this blog showcased many experiences of gender-based public sexual harassment that occurred on the Metro or on the Metro stations. We’ve also collected experiences of harassment on buses and buses stations. We believe that men need to be part of the solution of ending gender-based violence and harassment. Creating divisions among genders doesn’t address the issue in a concrete way. How about the transgender folks? How about the women who don’t take the “Ladies Special” and get harassed in a regular train, will they get blamed? Will there still be prevention education on sexual harassment?  We shall see how this pans out in India, as it is happening in Japan & Mexico.

What do you think?

One response to “Gender Exclusion

  1. I don’t think it has a place in DC’s metro system, honestly, because of the logistics of commuting. Men and women are so mixed, platforms are so crowded, trains stop so frequently, etc.

    I spent a semester in India and while that doesn’t make me an expert in any respect, I can say that in my experience the atmosphere of harassment in places I went (as not only a woman, but a foreigner) is so much more blatant and ingrained and accepted that these cars sound entirely appropriate just to create some safe space for women in public, and I’m glad they have them.

    You’re right – separation over here won’t address the underlying gender issues, plus I have a feeling that if the men’s cars are full and next door is a women’s car, the separation wouldn’t last long.

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