Many train lines in Japan have women’s only train carriages. This is designed to give women an place to ride the train without fear of the gropers, or molesters called “chikan” in Japanese. The special cars are generally available during rush hour only to prevent the overcrowded trains in Japan from providing opportunity and cover for would-be molesters. The mark here is the symbol of the “Josei Senyo Sharyo ni Hantai Suru-Kai” which is the largest group organizing the protests.
The group proposes at several alternatives to women’s only cars:
- Uniformed officers on trains and platforms
- Emergency microphones on trains so that any call for help will be heard (in addition to the emergency buttons which one would have to be near to push)
- Uniformed citizen volunteer patrols of trains during rush hour
- Efforts by train companies to reduce the rush hour crowds (cheap fares for off-peak riders, off-peak transpasses, etc.)
Sometimes during rush hour, the women’s only car is the only one with any breathing room while the rest are packed well-beyond comfort. There have recently been a rise in the number of men participating in planned protests against the “josei senyosha”. The men show up at the platform at a certain time and enter the female only car as a group.
Below is an audio recording of one of the “protests”, and one older woman who was especially vocal screaming “Oriro!” (Get off!) and some other not-so-nice things repeatedly at the men.
It seems to me that there are a lot of losers in this situation, and although the problem was caused by the existence and spread of the “chikan” problem, whether women’s only cars are the best way for Japanese society to deal with it is still questionable.
One body that may have the power to alleviate the problem is the powerful train and subway industry that chooses to run trains at such an unhealthy capacity.