December 19, 2018

WORLD: Women-Only Train Cars Are Becoming More Popular In Nations That Have A High Record Of Gang Rape On Public Transportation And In General. Great Idea Until Problem Solved.

written by Rhitu Chatterjee
April 4, 2016

Last week, Germany announced that it will introduce train cars for women and children only to provide a secure space for female passengers.

That's an idea that other countries have tried. And it's not always a popular plan. An essay in Quartz published in 2014 argued that the women's car confines women to the "periphery of public spaces" and reinforces gender roles.

I'm a regular passenger in a women's car. And I disagree.

The Delhi metro rail is by far my favorite mode of transportation in the city, thanks in part to the ladies' car. Each train has either six or eight coaches, of which one is reserved for women. It is the only public space in the city where men are on the periphery. It is a joy to see so many women, most of them young — students and working professionals — and from all economic backgrounds, traveling together, free from the male stares and aggressions that assault them elsewhere in the city.

The body language of women in this car feels different. They look carefree. Some listen to music on their headphones or read a book or newspaper, rarely looking up. They don't have to worry about being groped or stared at by creepy men. Women traveling in groups often speak loudly as they catch up with friends or colleagues, gossiping, laughing, discussing school, work or family problems, even taking selfies! Some will strike a sexy pose, smiling and tilting their heads in ways they wouldn't dare to outside the women's car.

Safety is why this car exists. On a daily basis here, women in public spaces are disrespected by men. On buses, men push women or pretend to fall on them, says Neetu Singh, 27, a primary school teacher and a regular user of the metro rail system. It is a pretext to touch women inappropriately. This is common in other Indian cities, which is why commuter trains in Mumbai and Kolkata have had women's cars for decades. Here in Delhi, the metro rail system was launched in 2002, but the women's car wasn't added until 2010, after complaints of sexual harassment.

Some women who commute on the metro think men behave better on the metro than on the streets and buses. This may be true. The stations and trains are new and well-maintained, unlike the streets of Delhi. Perhaps that puts people on their best behavior. (See my recent post about the Delhi metro for more details.) Besides, the stations have heavy security and surveillance cameras.

Still, there are incidents of sexual assault. "I've been groped in the general compartment," says Jyoti Kulchander, 23, a student and a regular commuter. She did not feel comfortable sharing details. There are no data on sexual assault on the metro, but occasionally some women do report an incident.

There is an unintended consequence of the women's car. Some men think women simply shouldn't ride in the general compartment. But to me, the women's car asserts women's right to having their own space in public. This is a new concept in this city, as evident from the many men who often end up in the women's car, unaware that it is illegal for them to ride there. Maybe they missed the signs in pink. Or maybe they can't read.

I once watched with irritation as two groups of men rode along in the women's car. In my hometown, Kolkata, this would have led to yells and probably physical violence by the female passengers, who no doubt would have tried to push the men out. But none of the women in this car asserted their right to this space. Disappointed at this lack of protest, I walked over to the men and told them to leave. The younger men, who seemed to be in their 20s and looked like recent migrants to the city, left immediately. The older men stared at me and remained sitting. I called the metro police. As I left the train, I watched a policeman enter the car and talk to the men, asking them to leave or be fined 250 rupees (about $4). I couldn't see how the men reacted, but I was satisfied.

It would be wonderful if men learned to accept women's presence in public spaces without feeling the need to harass them. We wouldn't need the ladies' compartment then. But until they do, the women's car is one good way for us to assert our right to public spaces. I can't speak for my sisters in Germany, but women here in India's capital love the women's car. They don't have to worry about wearing a sleeveless shirt, or how loudly they laugh or talk. The space is theirs, and they feel safe and comfortable.

Crime spike in Germany puts pressure on immigration policy

PBS Newshour published on Feb 7, 2018: A brutal murder of a 15-year-old girl in Southern Germany has placed the country's open-door immigration policy under intense scrutiny. In addition, a new government-sponsored study found that violent crime rose in one state by 10 percent in two years, with 92 percent of the increase attributed to young male migrants. Special correspondent Malcolm Brabant reports on the political fallout.

Only Two Men Convicted After 1,200 Sexual Assaults In Cologne (HBO)

VICE News published on Dec 22, 2016: Heavy security is expected in Cologne during this year’s New Year’s celebrations, following last year's multiple assaults on mainly women celebrating in front of the cathedral and the station. The 2015/2016 New Year's Eve celebrations in several German cities were rocked by a wave of sex attacks and assaults. The worst were centred on Cologne. It's estimated up to 1200 women were assaulted and 2000 men were involved. Milene Larsson travels to Cologne to speak to victims and the authorities, to try and find out what really happened, and why some events weren't made public for days.

The Telegraph, UK
written by Barney Henderson
March 28, 2016

A German train operator has announced it is introducing a women-only carriage on its trains following several violent sex attacks.

Mitteldeutsche Regiobahn will introduce the option for women passengers on the Leipzig to Chemnitz line, positioning the carriages next to the train conductor.

“The local proximity to the customer service representative is chosen deliberately,” a Mitteldeutsche Regiobahn spokesman said.

The carriages are designed to make solo female travellers or women with young children feel safer on trains.

Boys up to the age of ten will also be allowed to ride in the special carriages.

There were several sex attacks against women in Germany on New Year's Eve, widely blamed on migrants who had recently arrived in the country.

In Cologne, a crowd of some 1,000 men “of North African or Arab appearance” was able to mass around the city’s main train station, with roving gangs allegedly assaulting dozens of women with impunity.

Last week, German authorities brought the first sexual assault charge stemming from the New Year's Eve mob violence against an Algerian man.

The 26-year-old suspect is believed to have groped a woman while he and around ten other men surrounded her at the city's main train station, a spokesman for the Cologne administrative court told AFP.

"The first sexual assault charge has now been filed," the spokesman said, nearly three months after the events that inflamed public debate about a huge influx of refugees and migrants to Germany.

Prosecutors received more than 1,100 criminal complaints over incidents on New Year's Eve in Germany's fourth biggest city, including over 480 accusations of sexual assault, news agency DPA reported.

Most of the 120 suspects are from Algeria or Morocco, including recent arrivals and men who have been in Germany for years.

Only three people have been convicted in the ensuing months, for theft, and the city's police chief conceded in February that most perpetrators may never be caught.

The attacks fanned tensions in Germany, which took in nearly 1.1 million asylum seekers in 2015, mainly from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, and put intense pressure on Chancellor Angela Merkel for her welcoming stance toward refugees fleeing war.

Far-right groups railed against "sex jihadists" and "rapefugees" in street rallies and the events were seen as pivotal in delivering strong results to a populist anti-migrant party, the AfD, in three state elections this month.

Women-only carriages are very common across much of Asia. The last women-only carriage in Britain was removed in 1977.

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