The Logic Behind Pink Train Carriages For Women Is Derailed

07/04/2016 6:25 AM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST
Alberto Manuel Urosa Toledano via Getty Images
England, Manchesteer. A train at Victoria station that it is the second biggest in the city.

Unfortunately, we've all been there.

Minding our own business on the train, wishing others would mind theirs. Keeping our eyes out the window, our earphones in, while the drunk, obnoxious guy one seat over tries to make conversation.

We've watched the leering man on the other end of the platform jump, not into the carriage in front of him, but follow us creepily into ours. And when we get out of that carriage, we've made a phone call (and if no one answers we still pretend we're talking) so that same man knows we're not 'alone'.

But when that guy decides to sit next to us on the platform, a little too close, when there are at least 10 other empty seats around, wouldn't it be nice to watch him have to walk into another carriage while we step into a female-only "safe carriage"? The one with extra CCTV footage, panic buttons and extra guards?

Wouldn't that be just wonderful? Wonderful until we realise we're forced to take a seat in a segregated area because the people who have hassled, groped and assaulted women get to sit, with free reign, in any of the other carriages?

I wouldn't buy a ticket on that train.

To address the high number of assaults against women on public transport in recent years, the National Secretary of a Transport Union has called for a trial of female-only "safe carriages" on trains around the country.

But the suggestion is a band-aid solution to a cultural problem we're not going to fix with a pink carriage. Indeed, we're only going to identify women as victims before they've even become one.

And in 2016, when so many women -- and men -- are fighting for the inclusion of women on boards and in parliament, and fighting to reduce the gender pay gap, why has segregation between the sexes suddenly become the answer to a cultural problem?

Addressing the needs of the victim, or potential victim, is important but it isn't the sole answer. Whether it be the victim of an assault on a train or unconscious bias in the boardroom. The victim isn't the issue. The perpetrator is the issue.

And only through targeting the perpetrator, hitting them with harsher penalties and education programs, are we going to reduce the amount of perpetrators, or at the very least inconvenience them rather than their potential victims.

While it might feel wonderful in a pink carriage for a while, it wouldn't solve the problems of a society that needs to concentrate on inclusion rather than segregation. We are all on the same train and we all want to reach the same destination -- a society where men and women can feel safe in each other's company, not removed from it.

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