• Women-only train carriages were introduced in Indonesia but only lasted a couple of months (Getty) (Getty Images)Source: Getty Images
China is the latest country to try and introduce female-only public transport. The debate was started in Australia last month, but how successful has the policy been elsewhere?
By
Bianca Soldani

3 May 2016 - 10:04 AM  UPDATED 4 May 2016 - 11:11 AM

A new bus is rolling the streets of Zhengzhou, China.

It has frilly seats, is decorated by stuffed teddy bears and is strictly women-only.

The new service, that runs on popular routes at peak hours, is designed to curb the risk of sexual harassment and has been welcomed by many local commuters.

But despite it being followed by a second, non-female-only bus so as not to disadvantage male travellers, it has already started attracting accusations of being sexist and discriminatory. 

Just days after it launched, vision emerged of a pensioner yelling at a driver after he was refused entry. He shouts, “You're discriminating against me! This is a public bus!” before being led away.

Meanwhile another local man told Dahe Daily that harassments are far and few between and that “the bus company has made a fuss over it - this measure will cause men to feel humiliated.”

And on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, comments of likes of "The female-only bus is insulting because it treats every man like a pervert" and "What about the women who catch the mixed bus now? Doesn’t this make that more dangerous?" were made.

Although new to China, female-only buses exist in a number of countries and the idea of female-only carriages on trains has recently been floated in Australia. 

In Japan, pink women-only carriages on peak hour trains were introduced a decade ago to great affect.

At the time groping rates had more than trebled on public transport and authorities feared many more women weren't coming forward to report incidents of sexual harassment. The move was praised by commuters of both sexes.

Meanwhile in 2000, Mexico introduced similar carriages at the front of their trains with a positive response, while Iran has long separated men and women on buses with little complaint.

Women-only taxis with female drivers is another service that exists in Mexico, the UAE and India, while the Indian city of Imphal also has a women's only market place.

It hasn't all been stories of success however, as the idea of segregated carriages was also attempted in Indonesia to help prevent sexual violence on trains, but was dropped just a matter of months after it was introduced due to the resultant overcrowding in the mixed gender carriages.

Likewise in Brazil the policy failed to gain much traction largely because male commuters failed to respect the women-only areas which were poorly policed.

Back in Australia, the debate has been mixed. According to the Rail, Tram and Bus Union national secretary Bob Nanva, there have been close to 3,000 incidents against women on pubic transport in NSW alone since 2012. 

The idea would be to try and diminish that figure but it has prompted ridicule from members of the public who believe it isn't necessary.

Meanwhile feminist Eva Cox suggested male-only areas would be more appropriate, saying, "I suspect if men are being drunk and obnoxious they ought to be stuck away in a separate carriage rather than limit women to the special carriage."