Shenzhen's 'women-only' train carriages have more men than women riders

Female students seen riding in a ladies first carriage on the Shenzhen Metro.
Female students seen riding in a ladies first carriage on the Shenzhen Metro. PHOTO: XINHUA

SHENZHEN, CHINA (CHINA DAILY/ANN) - Shenzhen metro authorities recently introduced 'women priority' carriages, the first trial in China. But to the embarrassment of many, there were more men than women in the carriages.

According to Shenzhen metro staff, the first and last carriages of the current lines 1, 3, 4, and 5 are designated as 'women priority' carriages. The platform shield doors outside these carriages carry pink logos to distinguish them from ordinary carriages.

Within a week of the launch, the 'women priority' carriages were crammed with large numbers of male passengers.

As passengers pour into the carriages during rush hour, some may not have noticed the pink logos. There are no other notices or reminders in the station.

Opinion polls before the introduction of these carriages have shown that 81.9 per cent of people think there is sexual harassment on the metro, and 21.6 per cent think that sexual harassment frequently occurs.

Shenzhen metro staff said the 'women priority' carriage is not legally binding, and is not aimed at reducing sexual harassment, but to cultivate respect for women, and further improve behavior in Shenzhen.

Still, netizens pointed out that the solution to stopping sexual harassment is to strengthen punitive measures, instead of isolating women. There are also worries that 'women priority' carriages will affect the efficiency in the running of the metro system.

With more men using 'women priority' carriages, many have questioned the usefulness of such carriages. A male passenger said he did not notice the carriage was for women until he boarded it. "Everyone finds out that it is for women only after boarding it," he said.

A number of female passengers said there is no time to look for the logo during rush hour. Many women said they do not plan to use the carriages as there are more men than women in them.

Commuters are now asking whether 'women priority' carriage can guarantee female passengers' priority right, and whether men will be punished or dissuaded when they get into the special carriages.

According to the Shenzhen Metro Group, the 'women priority' carriage was a proposal by Su Zhongyang, a member of the Guangdong Provincial Committee of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the country's political advisory body. Su suggested setting up the 'women priority' carriage to provide women a safer travelling experience. In June 2017, the proposal was adopted by the Shenzhen metro and the Guangzhou metro, both of which have set up 'women priority' carriage on some of the lines.

Shenzhen Metro Group said that the 'women priority' carriage is exclusively reserved for women.