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Women-only passenger car


Women-only passenger car

A sign on a Japanese rail platform indicating a boarding point for women-only cars.

Women-only passenger cars are railway or subway cars intended for women only. They are offered on some trains in Israel, Japan, India, Egypt, Iran, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates, while passengers in some other countries have demanded their introduction.


  • Africa 1
    • Egypt 1.1
  • The Americas 2
    • Brazil 2.1
    • Mexico 2.2
  • Asia 3
    • Japan 3.1
      • Current practice 3.1.1
      • Historical practice 3.1.2
    • Malaysia 3.2
    • India 3.3
    • Indonesia 3.4
    • Israel 3.5
    • Taiwan 3.6
  • Europe 4
    • United Kingdom 4.1
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • External links 7



On all Cairo Metro trains, the middle two cars (4th and 5th) of each train are reserved for women (the 5th car becomes a mixed use after 21:00). These cars are used as an option for women who do not wish to ride with men in the same car; however, women can still ride other cars freely. This policy was introduced for protection of women from sexual harassment by men.[1]

The Americas


A women-only subway car at Rio de Janeiro Metro.

In April 2006 the Rio de Janeiro Metro implemented the mandate established by state law passed the previous month, to have dedicated passenger cars for women to avoid sexual harassment. For trains with six passenger cars, one subway car is marked with pink colors as exclusive for women, and the women-only restriction applies from Monday through Friday during the rush hours, between 6:00 and 9:00 and between 17:00 and 20:00. There is metro police enforcement to prevent men from boarding the dedicated passenger car, and the platform has a sign on the floor indicating the boarding point for women-only cars.[2]

A similar policy was implemented at São Paulo Metro between October 1995 and September 1997, but the Companhia Paulista de Trens Metropolitanos (CPTM) decided not to continue after some complaints by married couples and to avoid any possible contravention of article 5 of the Brazilian Constitution, that guarantees equality among citizens.[3]


Women-only buses were implemented in Mexico City in 2008.[3]



Current practice

"Woman Only" sign inside Tokyo Metro carriage
Passengers waiting to board a women-only car on the Keio Line at Shinjuku Station in Tokyo

In Japan, women-only cars were introduced to combat lewd conduct, particularly groping (chikan). Women-only policies vary from company to company: some are effective during rush hour, others throughout the day, while some limit women-only cars to rapid service trains, as they tend to be more crowded and have relatively longer distances between stops. But in general, the policy is effective only on weekdays, excluding holidays. Platforms and train doors are marked with signs indicating boarding areas for the cars, and the days and times when the cars are women-only. Though intended to be exclusive to women, most train operators in Japan allow male elementary school pupils, disabled persons, and their assistants to board women-only cars.

Groping in crowded commuter trains has been a problem in Japan: according to a survey conducted by Tokyo Metropolitan Police and East Japan Railway Company, two-thirds of female passengers in their 20s and 30s reported that they had been groped on trains, and the majority had been victimized frequently. Authorities have been unable to stop groping, as trains are too crowded to identify and catch the perpetrators, which would later escape; courts have traditionally been lenient, and victims are often too ashamed to come forward.[4] The police and railway companies responded with poster campaigns to raise awareness and with tougher sentences, but have been unable to reverse the trend.[5] In 2004, the Tokyo police reported a threefold increase in reported cases of groping on public transportation over eight years.[6]

In December 2000, Keio Electric Railway, which operates trains between Tokyo and its suburbs, offered women-only cars late at night on a trial basis, in response to complaints about groping by drunken men during the bōnenkai party season.[7] Keio began running trains with late-night women-only cars on a full-time basis in March 2001. In July 2001, JR East began a similar service on the Saikyo Line, which connects Tokyo with Saitama Prefecture and had become notorious for gropers because of crowding and longer distances between stops.[8] The following year, the service was extended to evening rush hour.

Sign next to door of coach

In July 2002, JR West became the third company in Japan to run trains with women-only cars, and the JR West trains in Osaka became the first to offer women-only cars during morning rush hour. The same year, two more Osaka-area railways, Hankyu Railway and Keihan Railway, added women-only cars to their limited express trains, and Hankyu became the first company to run women-only cars all day long.[5] Other Osaka-area companies followed suit, including Osaka Municipal Subway, whose Midosuji Line, which carries passengers at as much as 160% capacity, had a reputation for having the worst groping problem in all of Japan. Tokyo-area companies resisted the change because of logistical difficulties and fear of overcrowding in mixed-gender cars, but in 2005 they introduced women-only cars during rush hour, after awareness campaigns and tougher sentencing proved ineffective.[8]

Women-only cars have received positive reactions from some men and some women. Women cited safety from gropers, as well as not having to tolerate various smells. Men cited not having to worry about false accusations of being a groper.[9] However, passengers complained about further overcrowding in mixed cars, and feared that women who ride mixed cars would be putting themselves at more risk than before.[6] Visually-impaired men have been reported to unknowingly enter a women-only car and to be warned by other passengers, facing serious embarrassment.[10]

Japanese legislation from 1900 provides for a 10 yen fine for male passengers who enter a female-only railway car or waiting room; this law is technically still in effect, but the Japanese government has opined that it would not apply to the "women only" cars that are currently in use, making compliance with the "women only" rule voluntary from a legal perspective.[11]

Historical practice

Signage previously used on the Chuo Main Line

The earliest instance of women-only cars in Japan was in 1912 on the present day Chuo Main Line, when they were introduced during rush hours to separate male and female students.[12][13] Women-only streetcars were introduced in Kobe in 1920, and Hankyu Railway ran special trains for schoolgirls commuting between Kobe and Nishinomiya in the 1930s.

Cars exclusively for women and children were introduced on the Chuo Main Line and Keihin-Tohoku Line in 1947, after the end of World War II. At the time, overcrowding on these lines during rush hours was so severe that women and children often could not physically board trains. The cars remained in use on morning inbound Chuo Main Line trains until 1973, when priority seating was introduced; they were retired from the Keihin-Tohoku Line at an earlier date.[13]


Sexual harassment in Malaysia is common, and since 2010 trains on the Malaysian Railway have included pink-coloured women-only cars as a means of cutting down on it.[14] There are also women-only buses in Kuala Lumpur since 2010.[15] In 2011, the government launched a women-only taxi service in the greater Kuala Lumpur area.[16] The taxis have women drivers, and operate on an on-call basis.[17]


A women-only carriage in India

Eve teasing is a euphemism used in India[18] for public sexual harassment, or molestation of women by men, with Eve being a reference to the biblical Eve.[19] Across India, all long distance train services have special compartments reserved for ladies only. In Mumbai, the commercial metropolis, all suburban commuter trains have compartments specially meant only for ladies, though children of school-going age are also allowed to travel. While two compartments are designated for 24 hours for ladies, one compartment is reserved for ladies during specified hours. The ladies compartments are provided for first as well as second class travel. Besides, Ladies Special trains have been introduced during peak hours where the entire train is reserved for ladies. There are three-four ladies specials during peak hours. With the number of women needing to travel doubling since 1995, there is a very strong demand for these kinds of services.[20] Many rail services offer women-only cars, including among others the Delhi Metro.[21] It has even given rise to a women-only taxi service.[22]


An Indonesian railway company, PT Kereta Api, introduced women-only carriages on some KRL Jabotabek commuter trains in the Jakarta metropolitan area from August 2010 in response to many reports of sexual harassment in public places, including commuter trains and buses. [23]

The women-only carriages on commuter trains are usually denoted by large pink or purple stickers, which read "Kereta Khusus Wanita", and are located at each end of the train. This kind of carriage was previously only able to be found on air-conditioned EMUs, but a number of recently repaired non-air conditioned EMUs have also been equipped with the women-only carriage stickers.

Recently, PT Kereta Api launched a special women-only train (the train itself uses an ex-Tokyo Metro 6000 series EMU, set number 6107F), which intended as further protection for women passengers from sexual harassments. To give difference from standard EMUs (which only provides women-only carriages on each end of the train), the women-only train had all of its cars decorated with large "Kereta Khusus Wanita" stickers colored purple or pink. Since October 1, 2012, PT Kereta Api Indonesia (Persero) Commuter Jabodetabek launch the women-only trains. All of the coach of this train is only for women and men don't enter this trains. [24]



Like Japan, Taiwan had women-only cars in TRA's local service in 2006. But because does the cars not have the desired effect and gender discrimination, they were abolished after 3 months.[25][26] There are also waiting sections for women-only in specific times (for example, during night hours on Taipei Metro) as well.


United Kingdom

The last "Ladies Only" accommodation in British trains was withdrawn in 1977,[27] due to a combination of different train types being introduced and equality legislation which prevented gender-specific provisions.

On the old type of local trains, no longer operating, individual compartments of the traditional type were right across the carriage (typically 9 or so per carriage), with no corridor, bench seats for 5 or so on each side, and access only through many individual side doors. Because of concerns from individual women passengers who might be left with men in the compartment as passengers alighted, a few compartments (typically the end one in each train unit) were labelled as Ladies Only. At a time when No Smoking compartments were denoted by red window labels, and First Class by blue labels, the Ladies Only compartments were shown by green window labels.

In September 2014, Parliamentary Under Secretary for transport Claire Perry MP mentioned a possible revival of the women-only carriages idea during a speech to a fringe event at the Conservative Party conference.[28] In August 2015, Labour leadership candidate Jeremy Corbyn said he would consult on the option of introducing women-only carriages to help reduce harassment.[29]

See also


  1. ^ NY Times Cairo Journal; For Women Only: A Train Car Safe From Men
  2. ^ "Homens não respeitam vagão exclusivo para mulheres no Metrô no primeiro dia em vigor". Gazeta do Povo (in Portuguese). 2006-04-25. Retrieved 2013-01-26. 
  3. ^ a b "Só para mulheres". Isto é (in Portuguese). 2008-08-06. Retrieved 2013-01-26. 
  4. ^ Lewis, Leo (2004-11-24). "All-women trains are only way to defeat Tokyo bottom pinchers". London:  
  5. ^ a b "Japan - Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - 2002".  
  6. ^ a b Joyce, Colin (2005-05-15). "Persistent gropers force Japan to introduce women-only carriages".  
  7. ^ "Tokyo trains tackle groping problem".  
  8. ^ a b "Lechers give Saikyo Line worst rap for Tokyo trains".  
  9. ^ "Japan Tries Women-Only Train Cars to Stop Groping".  
  10. ^ "Visually-impaired want railways to clarify stance on riding in women-only carriages".  
  11. ^ "鉄道営業法 -「女性専用車両」男が乗っても法的にはOK". PRESIDENT. 2011-10-31. 
  12. ^ "婦人専用電車". Tokyo Shimbun. 1912-01-28. 
  13. ^ a b
  14. ^ "Women only buses aim to halt sex harassment", MSNBC, 12/2/2010.
  15. ^ "Women only buses aim to halt sex harassment", MSNBC, 12/2/2010.
  16. ^ "Malaysia launches women-only taxis, hoping to reduce number of rape and robbery cases", Al Arabiya News, Nov 27, 2011.
  17. ^ "Malaysia launches women-only taxis, hoping to reduce number of rape and robbery cases", Al Arabiya News, Nov 27, 2011.
  18. ^ Here It is called eve-teasing Woman, Body, Desire in Post-colonial India: Narratives of Gender and Sexuality, by Jyoti Puri. Published by Routledge, 1999. ISBN 0-415-92128-7. Page 87.
  19. ^ Eve-Teasing The Official Dictionary of Unofficial English, by Grant Barrett. Published by McGraw-Hill Professional, 2006. ISBN 0-07-145804-2. Page 109.
  20. ^ Mumbai's Ladies Special train leaves the commuter sex pests behind, Helen Alexander and Rhys Blakel, Times Online UK, 14-Oct-2009
  21. ^ McCarthy, Julie (28 March 2013). "On India's Trains, Seeking Safety In The Women's Compartment".  
  22. ^ "Women form special cab service in Delhi -- catering exclusively to women". The World. Public Radio International. 24 January 2013. Retrieved 25 January 2013. 
  23. ^ Indonesia Railway Company Launches Women-Only Carriages
  24. ^ First Operation of Women-Only Train in Indonesia
  25. ^ 台鐵女性車廂 傾向取消 - Liberty Times(2006年8月3日)
  26. ^ 女性専用車両が不評…3か月で存続危機 - Yomiuri Shimbun, 2006年9月4日
  27. ^ Tanya Powley and Jim Pickard (26 August 2015). "Rail experts point to flaws in women-only train carriages idea". Financial Times. Retrieved 26 August 2015. 
  28. ^ Women-only train carriages could cut sex attacks, says transport minister
  29. ^ Rowena Mason (26 August 2015). "Jeremy Corbyn raises possibility of women-only train carriages". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 August 2015. 

External links

  • "Indian Women Find New Peace in Rail Commute" by Jim Yardley, New York Times September 15, 2009
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