Women-only train carriages could combat sexual violence, says Labour MP

London Underground
Women-only carriages on public transport could combat sexual violence, a Labour politician has said.

Shadow fire minister Chris Williamson said having separate compartments for women could offer a ‘safe space’ as sexual offences on public transport have doubled in the last five years.

British Transport Police figures have shown that over 1,400 offences were reported in 2016-17, a huge increase compared to 650 recorded incidents in 2012-13.

told PoliticsHome that women-only carriages have been successfully tested in countries such as Japan and Mexico, so there is ‘merit’ in considering the proposal, which Jeremy Corbyn suggested back in 2015.

“It was pooh-poohed [when Mr Corbyn suggested it], but these statistics seem to indicate there is some merit in examining that,” he said.

“Complemented with having more guards on trains, it would be a way of combating these attacks, which have seen a very worrying increase in the past few years.”

Mr Williamson added: “I’m not saying it has to happen, but it may create a safe space.”

“It would be a matter of personal choice whether someone wanted to make use of it.”

The idea was dropped in 2015 from Jeremy Corbyn’s election campaign after it received criticism from fellow Labour MP’s Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall.

His suggestion has experienced a similar reception from his colleagues, with Walthamstow Labour MP Stella Creasy tweeting:

“Can we make all carriages safe for all passengers rather than restricting where we can go?”

“[It] doesn’t keep women safe to restrict their movements – it normalises attacks. We need to be clear they [the attackers] are problem, not women’s seating plans.”

Jess Phillips, MP for Birmingham Yardley said the idea was “terrible”.

“It is essentially giving up on trying to prosecute assaults. Also, men should be incredibly annoyed by [the] suggestion they can’t control themselves.”

Women’s Equality Party co-founder Catherine Mayer also wasn’t taken with the idea:

The Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association’s (TSSA) Manuel Cortes said that having trains properly staffed “is the only way to keep travellers safe”.

“Our railways have more passengers than ever before but since privatisation, station staff across Britain have been culled and we are now seeing companies like Southern trying to get rid of carriage guards.”

“Our entire network is now woefully understaffed, making travelling more stressful and, sadly, more dangerous for passengers.”

“Some stations are no longer staffed at all. CCTVs may be in place but they need sufficient trained monitoring staff to keep carriages and stations properly scrutinised.”

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