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Women only cars on trains - your opinion?

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When I was organizing my photos from recent Japan trips, it made me think again about women only cars on Japanese trains. I'm sure you are familiar with this idea.


I wonder about your opinion - do you support such concept or do you find it controversial? Do you consider it to be offensive, as it treats all men as potential perverts? Or are we - men to blame for incidents on trains and it's perfectly fine to give women an opportunity to feel safe inside the train? Or you just don't care? ūüôā

I'm curious about your thoughts!



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FIrst of all, this "Women only" car is not Japan-specific. Travelling a lot before Covid for Business and leisure, I've noticed such a 'segregation' in various countries, at least Japan, Mexico, Brazil, Iran, Taiwan, UAE and Egypt. I've heared about that in Mumbai but never saw it myself (I was not travelling by train but by taxis) 


Reason are various, and sometimes not obviously mentioned. 


First of all, this is frequently responding to bad manners of (some) men in crowded cars (hands where they must never be, etc ...). In that case, the 'women only' doens't mean that women can't ride another car, but at least it's done to offer her a certain security in non-mixed car. Depending on companies, it can be a general practice, or only during rush hours. It's also very city-dependant in Japan (some cities like Tokyo have poor reputation for the behaviour of some male passengers). Unless I'm mistaken, I did not notice bus or tram "ladies only" in Japan. 


Another reason for having "ladies only" space is related to religion. In Dubai, despite it's timeboxed (from-to), this respond also to some religious mens requirements. I remember a discussion with a middle-aged man explaining me he was strongly lobbying for more seggregation as he "doesn't want to be obliged to share his space with an woman not pure" (meaning for him, during her periods). in Iran, it's more a strict seggregation man / woman responding to strict principles of Islam (like no alcoolic bverages everywhere etc...). For Iran & UAE, fines are also a reality, esp. in those UAE cars where you've on the ground a line splitting the car in two spaces (being the wrong side is quite expensive, even if you're a foreigner and didn't notice the line). 


For taxis, I know that you can asked specifically to have a woman driver if you're a woman in the USA and in Paris too (eg femmeauvolant). 


The discussion of "woman only" cars at rush hours was also existing in Paris (France) but never ended to a reality. The police regularly arrests men doing frotteurism / Chikan at rush hours. My daughter frequently complains about those bad manners some mens have, not only in public transports but also in the overall public space (groping / groping attempt / whistle girls ...)


"Woman only" car responds to a real need, but it's only a fallback solution (when it doesnt repond to religious principles). It's a matter of education (don't touch if you're not allowed to do so) and certainty of punishment when caught (thus be able to catch them easily). I do not intend to start a controversy here as this is not the place to do so, thus I'll stick on pure facts and not proceed furthermore.  


Back to trains, what is fun are Kato dry stickers. Depending on series, you've dry transfer to apply on the rolling stock to mimic theses "ladies-only" cars. 



Edited by JR East
various typos, adding precisions
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Thanks for sharing your opinion!

I know the background and reasons you've mentioned about Japan, but I didn't know about religion related reasons, so because of you I could've learned something new!


I agree about the certainty of punishment. Need for education basically applies to every aspect of life in the society. For example, I was taught by my father since I was a small child to always open door for my mother and let her enter building first, this stuck with me for the rest of my life. Education is definitely important, I agree 100%.


In Korea there are no women only cars, but similar sollutions are visible in parking spaces. In many underground parking lots closest spaces to the elevator are women only, to provide them safety when coming home late at night.

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Here is my opinion and observations whilst living in Japan. Many may disagree with me, but that’s the purpose of conversation and discussion. 


It‚Äôs a shame that a ‚Äúwomen only‚ÄĚ car is needed. Possibly a result of the increase of camera¬†phones, where sad, lonely men can feel anonymous.¬†I remember visiting Osaka in 2006 and first seeing these cars. I don‚Äôt recall seeing any in Tokyo at the same time but that may have changed now. ¬†There were also announcements almost every minute over the¬†speaker saying that:

‚ÄĚgroping people¬†is a crime‚Ä̬†

Do we really have to remind people of that?


I often think that Japan tend to try and find a quick fix for the issue rather than addressing it has the social problem it is. Same with the blue lights on platforms to stop jumpers. I guess Japan is stressful, especially for Japanese people who feel unable to express themselves compared to other developed nations.  This tends to result in people feeling isolated and alone and their weird quirks and obsessions tend to spring out. And people only meet others through other friends. Most bars, the usual pick up places, are often segregated into group booths so you don’t need to interact with anyone outside of your social group. 


Look at the guy who dressed as the Joker a few months ago and went berserk. He was from Fukuoka, lost his job, his friends pretty much disowned him. This is no excuse for the crimes he committed but you look at the situation and feel it could have been avoided with a few professional conversations and support. 


There is still misogyny present in Japanese society but I also¬†feel that some of the unhealthy¬†¬†behaviours,¬†that would normally be stamped out overseas, are¬†often ‚Äúmarketed to‚ÄĚ rather than deterred¬†for Japanese customers. Not to say that many Japanese people don‚Äôt also find them strange.


¬†Look at the ‚ÄúHobby‚ÄĚ industry. Full size cushions of their favourite idols, overly sexualised girl figurines, many¬†sexually explicit. Even mainstream manga like One piece have female characters, all with a large bosom. In a country that tends to have¬†limited opportunity for meaningful human interaction, all of these influences create a very twisted, objectified¬†view of women, particularly by men who have little to no contact with members of the opposite sex.


Edited by Kamome
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I agree with the hobby industry comment- over the past 10 or 15 years or so I have seen the proliferation of mixing sexualized images of girls with trains, tanks and the like (our hobbies, as if we needed further marginalization of them).  I avoid Akihabara and Nipponbashi Den Den Town except maybe to visit the Yodobashi at the former as the atmosphere has become too much "mouth breathers". 


But to the main topic, I would think if you have a society with similar much transit dependency and load factors as Japan, you would inevitably (and unfortunately) have the same issues, and likely others (daily fights, stabbings, shootings).  Look at New York City, the most transit dependent city in N. America- with Covid-19, subway ridership has plummeted, a situation unthinkable in Japan- looks like even New Yorkers can survive without it. I don't feel offended by the women-only cars- unfortunate yes, but they provide peace of mind for many, much like providing clean public toilets in all rail stations (and other places in a city)- which is something that cannot be said for many other places in the world that consider themselves civilized- why don't they address the underlying problems, eh?

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