As the Corbyn express keeps picking up speed he may be making a few changes to the transport system itself. He is proposing a mass campaign in order to make society safer for women. Some of the changes must be welcomed, policies such as a 24 hour police hotline for sexual assault and harassment and a public awareness campaign will only help clamp down on unacceptable behaviour. However as with every policy document not everything is perfect, indeed there are two specific proposals which i don’t believe will help the advancement of women. One of these proposals is for a ministerial role for the safety of women. We already have a ministerial role for the Women and equalities so I am not convinced adding another ministerial role is suitable.
The second proposal which I am truly concerned about is the idea of female only train carriages. Yes i realise it is only a policy which Mr Corbyn is considering and will consult with women before he makes his mind up, however as it is being considered it . The reported crimes on trains and platforms are coming down, however sexual offences and crimes against the person have crept up by a small amount. Of course many crimes will be unreported and polling shows an unacceptable number of verbal incidents on trains and other forms of transport. What is arguably a bigger problem though is the general feeling of unease which many women feel when using public transport, a poll in 2012 found that 28% of women don’t find using public transport in London safe at night. Corbyn’s proposals especially on public awareness and the 24 hour hotline should mean women would feel safer if these ideas were implemented.
The female only carriages proposal has numerous practical problems to it, rather than just a deficiency in its ideological underpinnings. As we’re all aware trains are an extremely popular way to travel, indeed on franchised rail services there were over 1.5 billion journeys made last year. It’s well reported that many trains are overcrowded and we need more to be able to cope with the ever-growing capacity, in this case how will making one carriage female only work? What will stop men who are on an overcrowded train from using the women’s only carriage in order to get a seat? If you’ve ever been on a train on a saturday evening or morning when football fans like myself use the railways you’ll understand the difficulty of implementing such an idea. A female only carriage could merely create a hostile environment where arguments are the rule rather than the exception when travelling as seats become scarcer. In essence on a crowded train it would be impossible to police effectively and the whole point of the ‘separate’ carriage would be lost.
The ideological issues with female carriages are almost too numerous to specify, after-all the idea that segregation is ever a good idea seems naive at best in my opinion especially in the argument for the need to protect those in the carriage. It perpetuates the idea that men are dangerous and women need protection from them by sitting in a segregated carriage. This will only add to the belief that women need protection and that men are merely beasts who are just waiting for the opportunity to grope or harass a woman. Would this help the general feeling of unease some feel when on a platform late at night or alone on a train? By creating female only carriages it also admits the problem of harassment or assaults cannot be tackled effectively. It’s a way of avoiding tackling the systemic root of the issue and trying to tackle the outcome rather than the reason is a facile attempt of pushing crime down. It also maintains farcical assumption that women are responsible for assaults and feeling intimidated, rather than people behaving with basic decency shifting them to a carriage of their own is the change we’ll try, and make.
On the whole Corbyn’s proposals are sensible, thought out and will help women tackle street harassment. I am hoping he will think about women’s carriages and promptly shelve the idea back to where it belongs. If you liked what i wrote please read other pieces of my work and follow by pressing the follow button. Any comments are welcome and there is a comment section at the end of the page for you to write your thoughts in whether they be positive or negative.