Saturday, August 21, 2010

Train Wagon for Women

Last Thursday, the state owned train company PT KA introduced the first women only wagon.

Please find below an article that I have quoted from Kompas.

I wonder whether this will be followed by special wagons for other sexes i.e. men, bisex, homo/lesbians.

Harassed or Touched by Men during Rush Hours
Jumat, 20 Agustus 2010 | 14:06 WIB
Reuters
Women board a women-only carriage of a commuter train in Jakarta August 19, 2010. Two men entered the carriage by mistake and eventually got out. The Indonesian train operator launched women-only carriages to protect women from sexual harassment on public transportation, a local television reported on Thursday. 

JAKARTA, KOMPAS.com — As the train rattled into Indonesia’s capital, 19-year-old Wiwit Wahyuningsih plopped down on a soft, pink-cushioned seat in a carriage newly designated exclusively for women.  It was a great feeling, the university student said, knowing she didn’t have to worry about being ogled at, pinched or even groped.

“The trains are always so packed, there are thousands of people crammed up against one another,” she said as she arrived at her station, books tucked beneath her arm. “Especially during morning and evening rush hours, it’s very common to be harassed or touched by men, intentional or not.”

Indonesia, a secular nation home to the world’s largest Muslim population, is often held up as a beacon of modernity. Women wearing headscarves — for religious reasons, fashion or in some cases to avoid unwanted attention — can be seen walking alongside friends in shorts and tank tops in glitzy shopping malls. Flirtatious teens fill coffee shops and male and female co-workers sit side-by-side at outdoor food stalls.

Except in mosques or religious schools, segregation between the sexes is rare.  But the state-run train operator PT Kereta Api Indonesia decided to set aside two cars in an eight-coach commuter train that runs between the capital and outlying suburbs after being flooded by letters of complaint from women.

As they increasingly enter the work force, women now account for half the 500,000 passengers riding the train in the greater Jakarta area every day.  The new train service for women had a soft launch on Thursday and went into full swing Friday.

“We need to protect them,” said Makmur Syaheran, a spokesman for the company, adding that if the service is a success, it could eventually be expanded to other trains in the sprawling archipelagic nation.

Stories about sexual harassment have made headlines in local papers in recent months and have filled up commentary pages. They also have become popular topics on blogs and social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Coincidentally, the controversy peaked just as two high school students posted a video on YouTube showing themselves singing to “Keong Racun,” which translates as “Poisonous Snail,” about a slimy old man who relentlessly pursues a completely uninterested young girl. With more than 3.6 million views, the teens, and the song, became an overnight sensation.

Women packed into the train, quickly filling up the 58 seats in each of the two male-free cars. Many reached in their bags for mobile phones and immediately started sending text messages or making calls.

Others, who couldn’t find a seat, crouched down in front of their friends to chat, or grabbed onto the swinging ceiling handles.   Asmawati, an acupuncturist who for 15 years has traveled into Jakarta daily to treat private clients, said she was impressed.

“It feels so relaxed, I love it,” said the 41-year-old who, like many Indonesians, goes by only one name. “Clean, air conditioned, no one bothers you ... I hope they keep it up.”
      
Yanti Sumarni, 28, agreed, describing how a man once pressed up against her and then leaned his head on her shoulder.  “I hated it,” she said as her friend Helena, added: “If anything, two cars isn’t enough. Look! There are more than 200 women here. It’s a good start, but we really need more.”
      
Government officials were quick to point out that it is not obligatory for women to use the carriages. They’re free to ride with men in the other six cars if they so choose.       

Imam Prasodjo, a sociologist from the University of Indonesia, said any form of segregation, especially in public places, can be viewed as a setback in a modern, newly democratic society. But the women-only carriages should be considered in the context of the country’s strong tradition of  egalitarianism.

“In this case, it really has nothing to do with discrimination,” he said, noting that, while sexism undoubtedly exists, men and women do work alongside one another in rice fields and in tall office buildings. “It’s about making their journey safer. I think most people will welcome that.”

Indonesia is not the first Asian country to offer same-sex carriages. Neighboring Malaysia recently reserved several pink coaches for women. Japan has offered the service during morning rush hour for years. And in India, female passengers have entire trains to themselves.

14 comments:

Luke said...

Harry, great story and concept and I am sure will work for a while then disappear as whilst they look good they are not practical or cost effective in the long run. Surely the correct way to deal with this is to police trains etc, educate people that women are not objects and support women who face such abuse rather than dismiss it. In the UK there are female only taxi cabs which are a good idea for women getting home alone but separating sexes in trains is not a good sign of things to come in my opinion.

H. Nizam said...

Luke,
I am also not sure whether the woman's train wagon can be permanent considering that at rush hours train in Jakarta and vicinity are over crowded that many passengers ride on the train's roof.
I agree that prevention of harassment can be done by what you have said.

colson said...

A relief and a shame at the same time. The main problem remains: the way some ( many?) men perceive women.

H. Nizam said...

Colson,
I agree with you. Serious efforts must be made to change such attitude

PJ said...

Great post! I wish they had something like that in the US! I'm not saying it would completely remedy the sex crime problems but it would help. All the education in the world will not keep perverts from doing or trying to do what they want. Not when the attitude of so many is "the girl was wearing the wrong kind of clothes, she was sending signals, she asked for it because she looked at me.... education won't help that. Not only that, but these compartments are so crowded it is obvious that "close proximity" cannot be helped. So it adds to the problem. I'm all for this type of transportation as long as it is voluntary. I mean, there are a lot of things which are gender separate. Even if they have to charge more for the fare on this particular type of transportation, I think women would be willing to pay more to be safer.

As far as being cost effective, I can't help but wonder if that would be cheaper than having to foot the bill for the people in prison who committed crimes because of this, or the victims' hospital bills who couldn't afford to pay for emergency treatment. All of that comes from the taxpayers. Sorry, but I must disagree with the above comment and say I wish we had something like that here.

God Bless!

PJ

PJ said...

Hey Harry! I'm sorry! I messed up when I said I had to disagree with the above comment. I forgot that it wouldn't necessarily be Luke's comment above me. Y'all must really think I'm ditzy! Anyway, Luke it was your original comment here that I must disagree with. Of course this is from a woman's "emotional" point of view. I am looking at it from someone who has ridden on subways and crowded buses point of view. It can be VERY SCARY.God bless!

PJ

Yari NK said...

Harry, I appreciate the efforts made by PT KAI to make women travel a lot more safely by introducing new two woman-only cars. Before the harassment occurred many people especially those of cynics decry the idea of separation and regard it as a démodé, Islamic, etc idea. But some of them eventually see the virtue of this idea after the harassment occurred.

Though I believe this is a good idea, I don't think this is the best solution to ward off the harassment especially when other aspects like finance, practicality, etc. are involved. But I agree we have to search for the best solution in order for the women to travel more safely though I realise it is not easy to come up with one...

TUKANG CoLoNG said...

dengan pengkhususan kayak gini bakal bikin rasa aman pada perempuan yg sering dijadikan korban tindak kriminal

Senja said...

semoga para penumpang wanita merasa lebih aman.

selamat pagi pak,...apa kabar ?
aku baik...smg bapak pun slalu baik ya ^^

H. Nizam said...

@PJ,
I am glad that you like the story.
I can image how it's like being in
a crowded train, no matter what women wear there would often be some men who would think "dirty" in that situation.
Due to which fact I also think that women would not mind if they have to pay extra cost. But of course better security must still be maintained for the train.

@Yari,
I agree that this would not end the harassment but at least would give a chance to women to have a peace of mind riding a train.

@Tukang CoLoNG,
Saya setuju akan memberi rasa aman walau tidak jamin bahwa kejahatan atau pelecehan akan berakhir di KA mengingat konidisi sangat padat sekali terutama jam2 tertentu, tapi paling tidak mengurangi.

@Irma/Senja,
Semoga penumpang wanita akan merasa lebih aman naik KA.
Senang sekali dengan kunjungan dan komenta anda. Saya sehat semoga anda juga demikian.

subzero525 said...

hi friend i read this post really great post i read about your blog at blogcatalog

H. Nizam said...

Subzero525,
I am glad you like the story. Thank you for dropping by.

Luke said...

@PJ, my concern is the belief that segregation of sexes is a good thing and a positive step in preventing crime of any nature as there could be a chance of segregation being taken into other areas of society.
I fully support any initiative which makes the world safer for us all however this has to be part of the prevention not the belief it is the cure. I hope it turns out to be a success, I also hope the next person caught gets a long jail sentence as a warning to others as well.

H. Nizam said...

@Luke,
I agree that separate train wagon for women is an effort to prevent harassment against women. But the problem could only be cured by enforcing the law on those who commit the crime.