Backlash over Beijing police tips for female drivers

BEIJING (AFP) - Don't wear high heels while driving. Make sure you release the handbrake before setting off. And don't panic if you suddenly realise you're going the wrong way.

These are some of the suggestions given by the Beijing police department to female drivers in a series of microblog postings that have sparked a backlash among Chinese Internet users who say the tips are sexually discriminatory.

"Some women drivers lack a sense of direction, and while driving a car, they often hesitate and are indecisive about which road they should take," reads one of the suggestions, posted on the police department's official microblog late on Tuesday.

Women often discover that "when they're driving by themselves, they're not able to find the way to their destination, even if they've been there many times", said the postings.

Another posting features a cartoon depicting a confrontation between a police officer and a woman driving a vehicle shaped like a large red high heel shoe.

It relates to a story of a woman named Liu who caused an accident and then told a police officer: "I hit the brake, but my shoe got stuck in the car!"

"Women drivers, please change into flat shoes when you're driving," the posting warns.

Another driving tip points out that "while the handbrake is typically used for stopping the car's movement, quite a few new women drivers often hurriedly get on the road without releasing it".

The posts appeared on the police department's verified account, which has nearly six million followers.

Women in China are guaranteed equal rights under the law, but conservative social mores often lead to gender discrimination in workplaces, schools and in other areas of modern life.

Web users responded with anger at what they condemned as sexual discrimination on an account maintained by the authorities.

"Surely this official microblog is planning to devote its next postings to tips for male drivers?" one user asked.

Another wrote: "All new drivers have these kinds of problems, regardless of gender - not to mention that the vast majority of accidents are caused by men."

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