China: Around The Nation

Why are ‘women priority’ carriages on China’s subway being overrun by men?

Scheme to provide dedicated spaces on Shenzhen metro during rush hour periods fails to deliver desired results as men outnumber women by two to one

PUBLISHED : Monday, 03 July, 2017, 2:59pm
UPDATED : Monday, 03 July, 2017, 5:37pm

The introduction of “priority carriages” for women on the Shenzhen city metro in southern China has failed to have the desired effect, local media reported.

The scheme was launched on June 26, with two designated carriages – one at each end – attached to each train running during peak times on subway lines 1, 3, 4 and 5, Beijing Youth Daily reported.

Despite media reports saying last week that passengers would be made aware of the scheme, it appears they were not, or if they were, they apparently chose to ignore it.

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According to the newspaper, when it checked who was travelling in one of the priority carriages, it found there were 26 men and 12 women. It said also that it observed some women failing to board a rush-hour train due to overcrowding.

While the findings are far from conclusive, they were put to the subway’s operators, the report said.

“Priority for women does not mean exclusively for women,” an official was quoted as saying.

“If other carriages are full, male passengers will be directed to these carriages as well.”

Pink markings on the platform help women to locate the “priority” carriages, which are also similarly marked inside, the report said.

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The official said that the scheme was designed to promote a “women-friendly” atmosphere and elevate social morals in Shenzhen, a city in southern China’s Guangdong province. He denied it was driven by complaints of sexual harassment on the subway.

A similar scheme was introduced in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong, on June 28. The newspaper said it had yet to assess its effectiveness, but had observed women experiencing difficulties trying to access the carriages during busy periods.