In an attempt to curb the increasing number of sexual assaults occurring on subways, the South Korean capital of Seoul has plans to reintroduce female only subway cars to its transportation system beginning in September. Female only subway cars were first introduced nearly 20 years ago, but eventually phased out. It was reintroduced again in 2007, but abandoned when it was shown that more than half of riders disapproved of the program. This time however, with the number of sexual assaults against females during their commute – often called a “hell ride” – rising 80% from 2009 to 2010 according to the Los Angeles Times, women are demanding to know what the government is going to do about the problem.
The government’s answer to the demands of its female citizens is to reintroduce female only subway cars starting on the No.2 line, one of nine subway lines in the city. Beginning at 11:30pm the train will run two female only cars with security guards present to make sure male riders abide by the rules. While many are welcoming this reintroduction with open arms, many still oppose the idea and feel that segregation still does not address the root of the sexual harassment problem. According to Lee Seon-mi of the Korea Sexual Violence Relief Center,
“We believe that separating women and men won’t solve the fundamentals of the problem. To really tackle the problem, you need to understand the crimes. General education is more important.”
Neighboring countries like Japan have been running female only subway cars since 2000, but officials admit that the change hasn’t resulted in a significant decrease in sexual assaults.