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Time for women-only subway cars in Guangzhou

Posted: 03/5/2012 4:54 pm

Standing on the tube, rush hour, day in, day out — it’s one of the worst things for a woman. You get your makeup perfect, the right hint of perfume on your suit, out the door and off to work in full spirits, and it all comes melting down the second you step on the subway. As if being flung, pushed and squeezed isn’t bad enough, you still have to avoid all those salty pig hands (咸猪手).

Which leads to one inevitable question: Why are there no women-only cars on the subway? Southern Metropolis Daily (SMD) asked the same thing of its readers late last week.

According to SMD, subways in Japan have been offering this service to female passengers for at least 12 years. Now, with Women’s Day approaching on Thursday this week and following on the coattails of Guangzhou’s recent “Occupy Women’s Toilet” movement, it could be time for the PRD to get on board.

A women-only subway car in Japan

One local netizen, going by the alias Tonghua, went online recently to suggest that transportation authorities in Guangzhou could follow the example of Japan and set aside several carriages for women, sparing them the embarrassment of unwanted physical contact with the opposite sex. Sometimes men have no choice where they squeeze into on the subway, but as the SMD notes and any woman can tell you, salty pig hands are a real and common problem for female subway riders.

“Harassment might just last a second or two, but it’s a really hard issue to raise. If you confront the man, he might shout you down, but it’s not something that one can just accept and move on.”

Chances of something like this taking root are slim. Guangzhou, for example, already has “Love” cars in place for the elderly, pregnant, wounded, etc., but can always be found full of perfectly able and healthy young people. Without some sort of guarantee of supervision, what Tonghua imagines will ever exist in name only.

Also, Guangzhou Metro Corp responded to Tonghua’s proposal of women-only subway cars by saying that such an undertaking is not possible at present, given the large passenger flow. Passengers are encouraged to report any salty pig hands they encounter, but a spokesperson for the Metro Corp said that “Even if we had a women-only car, we have no way of ensuring that male passengers would not enter.”

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