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Ladies first

On jam-packed Japanese commuter trains, women are often the victims of chikan, or guys grabbing a feel. The trains can be so crowded that it's difficult or impossible for the woman to get away, or even to identify who's fondling her.

In response to this problem, some train lines set aside certain cars on rush-hour trains for women only. JR West has offered women-only cars in the Osaka area for several years. And JR East recently barred men from the first car of morning rush-hour trains on its infamous Saikyo line. The Asahi Shimbun reports:

The JR Saikyo Line is notorious for its higher than average population of gropers. This month, JR created a "women only" car during morning rush hour. The first car on each 10-car train is off-limits to men.
Of course, the first car on each train is also the first to crash in an accident, like Monday's deadly derailment on JR West's Fukuchiyama line, when a train jumped the tracks and smashed into an apartment building. And it had a women-only car. The Mainichi Daily News quotes passenger Sadao Hayashi:
"There were screams inside the carriage, and bags were lying everywhere. From the left window I could see a women-only carriage that had toppled over, and some women couldn't move. There were lots of injured people."
The Mainichi reports that of the 106 deaths in Monday's crash, 47 were women and 59 were men. Apparently, the derailed train's women-only car was not in the lead position. It would have been ironic indeed if an attempt to protect female passengers had instead sent even more of them to their deaths.


Anonymous said...

I have a friend who travels to Japan quite frequently. He tells me about this "chikan" practice. Unbelievable! And yes, the derailment was a sad event.

Enjoyed reading your posts. Nice blog. 

Posted by sapere aude

Anonymous said...

I'd say that it's a small minority of trains that place their female-only cars in the lead position. Hankyu (a private rail in Kansai), I know, places a "no keitai" car on either end of its trains for people with pacemakers etc. Of course, crashes are so rare that I can't imagine there being a policy of using any specific group of people as an "operation human shield".  

Posted by Adamu



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