Sophie Wilkinson | Contributing Editor | Thursday, 24 August 2017

11 Reasons Why Women-Only Carriages Were And Are Still A Bad Idea

11 Reasons Why Women-Only Carriages Were And Still Are A Bad Idea

The Debrief: How's about we go for the bad guys and get them to change, instead of the other way around?

Do you remember 2015? Do you remember that time? When Jeremy Corbyn was on the ascendant and then he went and suggested that women-only carriages would be one of his solutions to the annoying agony that is modern-day British public transport? 

We had a lot to say about it then, and we'll remind you of that later, but the reason we're even summoning this shitshow is because a shadow minister - allied to Corbyn - has said that the women-only carriages idea should be floated again.

Floated in a toilet, we say. Chris Williamson dredged up the nonsense idea again, citing a rise in reports of sexual assaults on public transport over the past five years. He told PoliticsHome: 'It would be worth consulting about it.It was pooh-poohed, but these statistics seem to indicate there is some merit in examining that.'

'Complemented with having more guards on trains, it would be a way of combating these attacks, which have seen a very worrying increase in the past few years.'

Now, let's get this straight. Considering the ridiculous cost of trains in the UK, Corbyn's plan to renationalise them might not be a bad one. With the government in charge of railways, things might run a lot smoother, and cheaper. Being able to whizz people all over the country cheaply isn't a bad idea. 

But women-only train and tube carriages? As a way of cutting down on sexual violence? Well, This is what we said then:

1. It implies that gross men don't have to change their behaviour, when really they do, pretty sharpish.

2. Women will have to go out of their way to find the right carriage. Why should women have to put in extra work to feel safe? We do enough of that as it is. And what happens to a woman who is in the 'wrong' carriage? Will she be seen as asking for it if she gets attacked?

3. Reporting rates going up doesn't necessarily mean the attacks are going up, but could imply that schemes, such as Project Guardian (which Laura Bates of the Everyday Sexism Project consulted on, explaining that women-only carriages were a bad idea way before Corybn lobbed it into his proposed policies) are working to raise awareness of sex assaults on public transport, and how to report them.

4. Walk-through carriages will be introduced by 2020 and increase capacity on tubes, making it more dififcult for creepy guys to find an excuse to press up against a woman. 

5. We also cited Conservative MP Sarah Woolaston, who explained: 'In countries where women are segregated on public transport, this is a marker for disempowerment, not safety.’

6. Oh, and how on earth do you police this thing?

And of course, we have some extra points to add. Drumroll, please.

7. When the report showing that reports of sexual assaults on the UK's trains and tubes had doubled (from 650 in 2012/13 to 1,448 in 2016/17), the British Transport Police said this was down to victims feeling more comfortable recognising and reporting what had happened to them. While it's no use taking that at face value, it's worth considering it could be a factor. There's a huge uptick in support for women knowing their rights down to the increasing popularity of feminism and that's great. Maybe Mr Williamson could listen to the feminists in his party who 'pooh-poohed' his idea. 

8. After this report, actual experts (not random MPs, bearing in mind Mr Williamson is the Shadow Minister for, um, Fire and Emergency Services), were called in to make a comment, and Rachel Krys, of the End Violence Against Women Coalition told BBC 5 Live: 'It is sober men, travelling to and from work, who thought they were entitled to assault woman passengers, and that they would get away with it.' She didn't make this up; it is facts, based on statistics. While ending the rush hour crush won't exactly end sexual violence, it's worth looking at the people who assault and what their motivations are. From the looks of it, they do it because they can.

9. As Jess Phillips MP tweeted recently, 'men should be incredibly annoyed by suggestion they can't control themselves. Sexual violence isn't about urges it's about power. She also said we shouldn't take cues from Saudi Arabia when it comes to women's rights.

10. As Stella Creasy MP also tweeted: 'Hi @DerbyChrisW can we make all carriages safe for all passengers rather than restricting where we can go? It's not us, it's them honest...'

11. Finally...finally...if men want to be forward with their ideas about what women want, best to ask them? That's how we got into this mess in the first place. 

You might also be interested in:

Women Who Eat On Tubes Get Online Haters

The Problems With Corbyn's Women-Only Carriage Consultation

UK Trains Are Depressing And Awful - Here Are Some Hacks To Make You Queen Of The Railway

Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophwilkinson