In Depth

Could women-only trains reduce sexual assaults?

Campaigners say idea 'teeters perilously close to victim-blaming', but minister says she wouldn't rule it out

Sexual offences reported on UK trains | Create Infographics

However, Perry's comments have angered feminist campaigners in the UK who argue that segregation would send "completely the wrong message". 

Or Claire Perry, you could just teach men it's not okay to sexually assault other passengers. But what do I know: http://t.co/N3Jl9Aw7uV

— Lucy McGettigan (@LucyMcGetts) September 30, 2014

@BBCWomansHour - if men are a menace on trains then surely create men's only carriages? Why restrict women's mobility 'for their safety?'

— Keri Facer (@Kerileef) October 17, 2014

Laura Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism project told the BBC's Woman's Hour last week that she believes the measure would be a "massive step backwards".

"To put women in a carriage on their own sends the very clear message [that] harassment and sexual offences from men towards women are inevitable."

She said it "teeters perilously close to victim-blaming" as it places the onus on women to protect themselves from sexual abuse. "If you have a women's only carriage and a woman doesn't travel in that carriage and she's sexually assaulted, are people then going to blame her for what's happened to her?" she asked.

However, The Guardian's Bidisha argues that female-only spaces are important in order to make women feel safer. "If men cannot behave respectfully towards women – and  too many have proved that they cannot – then they must leave," she writes.

But Cath Elliot, also writing in The Guardian, argues that there is "just something too defeatist" about the idea that women have to be segregated in order to stay safe. She says the measures would tell men they cannot be trusted, while reinforcing the stereotype that women are weak and vulnerable.

"I refuse to hide away, out of sight, in fear and trembling at some men's inability to control themselves," she says.

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