The reason behind Women-only passenger cars

  • CULTURE
  • Since more than a decade ago, Japan has started having trains, with women-only passenger cars. Extremely crowded trains in the capital and other big cities led to this decision, with the main aim to fight groping.

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    In 2000 Keio Electric Railway started this project and after gaining a positive response, more and more companies followed. One year later JR East, two years later JR West, with many followers.

    Temporary solution

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    Sometimes, when in the sardines-in-a-can like trains, it is difficult for authorities to track the groper (so-called ‘chikan’ 痴漢). Many victims are often too ashamed to report. With more than half of younger Japanese women having experienced groping, this introduction of women-only passenger cars has positive reaction from both women and men, who do not want to be falsely accused of groping. In crowded trains it is sometimes so tight, that one can barely move, therefore the position of hands can cause trouble if in the wrong place.

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    After deciding to have women-only passenger cars, many train companies allow elderly passengers, primary school pupils, and handicapped passengers to ride the car, too.

    After a couple of years, the Tokyo police already confirmed a lower rate of reported cases on trains.
    But still, since trains are always crowded during rush hour and since it is not always possible for women to ride a women-only passenger car, groping cases on trains are still being reported. As a measurement, some train companies have posters at the stations to raise awareness of the problem.

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    Some men have criticised them, saying that these trains automatically discrimintate ‘all men’, and position all women into victims. It is true, that these cars help temporally, but do not solve the problem of groping in generally. But that is okay, since the problem is basically the severely crowded trains. And as everyone knows: An open door may tempt a saint.