It was reported, today (26th August 2015) that assaults on women on public transport have risen to such an extent that an MP is suggesting the introduction of women only carriages on trains. This is a massive step backwards in many ways and should never happen.
For decades women have campaigned for equal rights. From the suffragettes who sought the right to vote, the women of the 1960s who burnt their bras in protest at discrimination, right up to the women of today who are still fighting for equal pay for equal work, women have struggled for their place in the world to be alongside men. Now someone is saying they should be segregated, presumably for their own safety, much as they were in the Victorian era.
This is wrong on every level but mostly because women should be able to walk the streets and travel on transport without fear of innuendo or assault. MEN should be brought up to understand that ALL people deserve respect and that includes women. Just because a woman is attractive, smiles at you or makes eye contact for a second, it does not mean you have the automatic right to touch her in any way let alone assault her.
Maybe I’m looking at the past through rose tinted glasses, and I am sure there were exceptions, but when I was growing up this is how women were treated. It was all part of the courtesy that was shown to women. Undoubtedly wife beaters, rapists and other undesirables existed but I never felt threatened when travelling alone on crowded buses and trains in London.
You cannot legislate away bad behaviour. Instead it must be made clear from an early age that every person has a right to their own body; that making inappropriate contact with anyone is wrong. No matter what age, what culture, what creed a person is, no one has the right to make suggestive remarks or gestures that put another person in fear.
Men cannot turn round and say the sight of a woman led them to behave in an inappropriate way. Men should be in control of their own bodies; difficult I know, when it was designed before civilised behaviour was the norm, but there it is. I have never quite agreed with the Islamic view that women must hide their bodies so as not to incite men. This medieval idea was also prevalent in the middle ages throughout Europe and we have managed to see a women’s hair or ankle without immediately possessing her – most of the time!
No matter how a woman behaves or dresses, when she is travelling she should feel safe. She should be able to stand next to a man in a crowded tube train without worrying about what will happen when she gets off. She should be able to walk to her destination without fear of being followed or attacked. No matter what the time is, whether it be during the work-a-day rush hour or late at night.
The idea of women only carriages is totally unworkable. Most trains don’t have enough carriages at the best of times, let alone have spare ones for women only. And how many women do you think there are travelling at any one time? Quite possibly as many if not more than men.
And women need to be educated as well. While I’m not offering it as an excuse or a get-out clause, men DO react to what they see around them. They shouldn’t, but they do. It’s nature taking hold, the thing that has kept every living thing on the planet producing the next generation.
But above all else, respect should be the order of the day. Only by ensuing everyone understands this will we create a society where it is safe for everyone to not only travel in safety but walk the streets without fear.