Egypt has been the latest in a series of countries to see women-only transport services as a means to prevent sexual harassment.
Pink Taxi, despite its name, is a limousine service marketed as a safe means of travel for women in Cairo, Egypt — where sexual assault and harassment has become an increasing problem.
Pink Taxi specifically serves as an alternative to male taxi drivers, among which there have been many reports of murder, rape and assault of women.
This is not a phenomenon exclusive to Egypt or even the Arab world. After a 13-year-old girl was raped and murdered on an overnight train in Thailand last year, the State Railway of Thailand began to provide a women-only carriage for overnight main route trains.
Other countries that introduced women-only trains and subway carriages in the last decade include Japan, Malaysia, India, Taiwan and Indonesia — most citing complaints of groping and unwanted attention in coed sections. Cities in Brazil and Mexico have also introduced women-only buses for the same reasons.
The fact of the matter, however, is that segregation is but a loosely-applied bandaid to the issue of sexual harassment and assault.
Sex-segregated public transport accepts harassment as a fact of life. It puts on the onus on women to travel separately if they wish to avoid being touched or harmed by men. Not only should women have to accommodate men’s inability to keep their hands to themselves — but this will inevitably shift blame to the woman who does get harassed on a main carriage — by being asked why she didn’t take the separate women’s car.
We cannot keep accepting the fact that “boys will be boys” and “men only think about one thing.”
Services such as these enable and excuse catcallers, harassers and rapists. If men really need to be taught simple public transportation etiquette — no, simple life etiquette, so be it.
Effort and money should be poured into public service announcements, school lessons and more in order to consistently teach and remind the public that harassment is not only wrong, but harmful to others.
This sex segregation will only exacerbate the problem as we continue to normalize harassment. The issue as a whole needs a full reconstructive surgery.