Will women-only carriages on trains work in Australia?

A union boss has called for women-only carriages on trains to protect commuters from “perverts”.

The carriages would protect “women and children who travel on public transport after dark”, says Rail Tram and Bus Union National Secretary Bob Nanva.

Just in NSW, there are almost 19 sexual offenses on against women on bus, tram and train networks every month.

However, Nanva says the problem is Australia-wide and female commuters need to be protected from “thugs, dickheads and perverts on public transport”.

Jessica Brunton, who travelled to work on the pink women-only train carriages in Japan, says offenders should be in their own “obnoxious” carriage.

“I feel more vulnerable on public transport in Australia than in Japan, even during the day time,” she said.

A Japanese subway train. image via istock

Although she admits the colour is patronising, she always rode on the very pink women-only carriages in Japan.

“At first I thought they were novel and didn’t get why they had them. It wasn’t until I had a few too many instances of men standing a bit too close to me, pushing their bodies into me, that I understood men did that and the need for the carriages.”

But Jessica isn’t convinced the idea would work In Australia.


“In Japan it was different. If a man was being obnoxious it was more subliminal – like no one would know. But in Australia we’re louder and people are more annoying. I feel everyone is fair-game to those who cause trouble.”

Jessica is not alone, a recent survey suggested 64 per cent of women felt unsafe on public transport after dark.

Since September 2012, There have been 2859 criminal offences against women on public transport in NSW alone.

A recent survey suggested 64 per cent of women felt unsafe on public transport after dark. image via istock

In Japan, the women only carriages were introduced in 2005 after a report that over half of Tokyo's female commuters had been groped.

That's the year I moved to Japan and the bright pink women-only carriages were in place in Kyoto as well.  I always rode on them, but it a decision to about travel safety - I just wanted a seat.

The fact that women don't feel safe on public transport needs a better solution than what happened in Japan and Jessica agrees.

"Women objectified wherever and whatever we do. I think gender only carriages reinforce that. Perhaps look at making transport safer for everyone. Everyone is vulnerable out there."

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