Public transportation can be a hotbed for sexual violence against women. To address it, city officials and private individuals around the world are creating women-only modes of transportation that allow women to get from point A to point B without the threat of unwanted sexual contact. Here are some of the ways women can commute without the annoying and often dangerous hassle.
Rickshaw: Lahore, Pakistan
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Fed up with being groped and harassed by male rickshaw drivers, Zar Aslam created a women-only rickshaw service. She has only built one car so far, but hopes to expand the service in Lahore, Pakistan.
Sunita Choudhary became the first female rickshaw driver in North India back in 2012. She started the job to make extra money while fighting court cases against her husband. On the back of her taxi, it reads: “Life is a struggle … This cab gives free rides to the injured and accident victims.”
A women-only minibus service is operating in Nepal’s capital city that aims to make women feel more comfortable and secure as they travel. According to a 2013 World Bank survey, around a quarter of young women in Nepal have been subjected to sexual harassment on public transportation, which is particularly problematic during peak hours.
Bus: Rawalpindi and Islamabad, Pakistan
The first minibus service for women sick of wandering hands and unwanted attention on regular bus services was launched by Pakistani authorities last year. However, it has come under fire from some, who worry it only encourages misogyny. Journalist Erum Shaikh wrote, “The mere fact that the authorities thought it appropriate to introduce something like this should actually offend women and yet we sit there, smile, look pretty and let the big, tough, muscular men build walls around us to ‘protect’ us.”
Bus: Kuala Lampur, Malaysia
Transport officials launched the Rapid Lady Bus service, which carries women—and only women—through the city during rush hour.
Metro: Cairo, Egypt
In Egypt, where 99 percent of women have experienced sexual harassment, according to a report published by U.N. Women in 2013, designating women-only subway cars might have seemed a smart safety measure. But, some there question the implications of segregating public space by gender, and whether or not women-only cars are the best way to prevent harassment. “Men ride the women’s car and specifically ride it just to target women,” said Rebecca Chiao, founder of Harassmap a volunteer-based initiative that works to end the social acceptability of sexual harassment.
Metro: Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo’s Metro adopted women-only cars for the morning rush hour to give women, elementary school students and younger children a higher sense of security. After years of failed attempts to eliminate groping on subways, the cars provide an alternative to crowded co-ed commutes. But some women worried whether they’d be seen as willing victims if they opted to board co-ed cars instead.
The city of Rio De Janeiro introduced women-only train cars in 2006. The first women-only cars in Brazil were introduced to Sao Paulo back in 1995, but were discontinued due to complaints from married couples, and the possibility of violating Article 5 of the Brazilian Constitution, which guarantees equality among citizens.
Taxi: New York City
SheRides, a smartphone app founded by Stella Mateo that offers female passengers women-only drivers, was the first of its kind in New York City, where 98.9 percent of yellow cab drivers are men, and taxi driving is one of the most dangerous jobs for workers in a large city.
Taxi: Mumbai, India
Viira Cabs, based in Mumbai, provides door-to-door taxi service to females, with women-only drivers. The cabs are also monitored on a GPS system with panic alerts. Not only that, the company provides job training and driver education for women from low income groups.