Big Debate: Should we embrace female-only carriages to fight sexual assault?

Jeremy Corbyn said he would consider separate carriages for women on trains (Pic by Danny Lawson/PA)

Jeremy Corbyn said he would consider separate carriages for women on trains (Pic by Danny Lawson/PA) - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

This week we ask whether women-only carriages are the right way to fight sex attacks on trains.

Abdul Khan, left of the Newham Ahmadiyya Muslims and Emily Sawyer, right, of London Feminist Network

Abdul Khan, left of the Newham Ahmadiyya Muslims and Emily Sawyer, right, of London Feminist Network - Credit: Archant

Last week Labour leadership frontrunner Jeremy Corbyn MP caused outrage when he said he was open to women-only carriages to fight sexual harassment on trains, with Tory women’s minister Nicky Morgan saying it sounded like “segregation”. But concern remains as British Transport Police claimed 1,399 sexual offences on trains and at stations were reported in 2014-15 in England, Scotland and Wales. This record high is up 282 on the previous year. This week we ask: “Should we embrace female-only carriages to fight sexual assault?”

To share your views simply vote in our poll, leave your comments below or on our Facebook and Twitter pages. Or you can contact Sebastian Murphy-Bates at and 020 8477 5802, or send a letter in to

Abdul Khan, Newham Ahmadiyya Muslims

People who commit sexual crimes do not live in trains, they are members of the society and walk around everywhere. For them it is only a matter of finding a place where they think that they can commit the crime and get away with it.

So we should adopt measures to counter such criminals wherever they can potentially act.

It is impossible to monitor each individual every day and every time or appoint a police officer with each woman to protect her whenever she goes out of her home for whatever reason.

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But still we should try our best to adopt measures to minimise opportunities for criminals to commit these crimes. Therefore, I see no harm in any reasonable effort intended to protect women, even if it is to design trains with women-only carriages.

If in this age, and in the long run, we seriously want to protect our women, we should adopt measures provided in the teachings of Islam, as they are the most effective and the most economical.

In the holy Qur’an, 24:31, Allah puts responsibility on all men and commands them to restrain their eyes and guard their private parts and warns them that Allah is well aware of whatever they do.

And in 24:32 Allah commands women to restrain their eyes, guard their private parts and not disclose their natural and artificial beauty except that which is obviously apparent.

It also says they should keep themselves covered modestly and behave modestly so what they hide of their ornaments may not become known.

All this means that men and women are equally expected to interact with modesty and not cause sexual excitement which ultimately leads to sexual crimes.

One may argue that, as Allah issued his commandment first to men, men have more responsability than women not to create circumstances which may lead to sexual crime.

Emily Sawyer, London Feminist Network

Women-only carriages are not the way forward. Women should be safe without having to hide away.

Women experience sexual harassment and assault on public transport, on the street, online, in their workplaces, in their homes – we need to address the high levels of sexual violence that women experience, stop men behaving in this way and address wider attitudes towards sexual assault.

Some of Corbyn’s other proposals do address wider issues, such as making it easier for women to report sexual assault.

But rather than women having to segregate themselves to feel safe, men should behave decently.

And segregating women does not address the cause of the problem. Those women may feel safer for that short time that they are in the carriage. The suggestion is that these carriages only operate later at night. But what about at other times? Women are subjected to sexual harassment and assault at all times of the day.

What about the women who are travelling with men and therefore not able to go into those women-only carriages? Being in the company of a man does not stop other men sexually harassing women. In fact that is closely related to the idea that women should be accompanied by men to stay safe from other men, which is clearly a ridiculous notion.

On November 28 the annual London Reclaim the Night march, organised by London Feminist Network, will be taking place in the evening.

On this women-only march we will be calling for an end to male violence against women.

We need to think much bigger than women only carriages.

Join us and millions of others across the globe who are marking the annual United Nations Day to End Violence Against Women. All. See for more information.

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