China Is Running A Women-Only Bus Service To Offset Sexual Harassment During Commutes

Sexual harassment on public transportation is a problem across the world, but is banning men from buses and subways the answer? The people of Zhengzhou, China, are about to find out, as the city prepares to launch a bus service for women only. The female-only buses will run on specific, heavily trafficked routes in Zhengzhou during the morning and evening commutes.

This is a nice change from a few years ago when Beijing police officers helpfully suggested that women could avoid being harassed by eschewing “minimal clothing, such as mini-skirts or hot pants when taking public transportation.” Another hot tip from the cops and transit authorities is “to not sit on higher levels of buses and to stand on lower stairs, to avoid being the target of inappropriate picture-taking, and they should shelter their bodies with bags, magazines and newspapers.” So, that’s useful.

Beijing bus
CREDIT: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

A number of countries around the world offer female-only options for public transport, from Tokyo’s subways to Mexico City’s so-called “pink taxis.” Whether they work or not is up for debate. Additionally, these services still put the onus on the victims of sexual harassment; they do nothing to change the ingrained attitudes that make this sort of behavior acceptable. Plus, these female-only services are usually all pink and girly (the Zhengzhou buses even have stuffed animals hanging from the ceiling).

Last week, a young woman riding the subway in Nanjing, China, confronted a creeper who was taking photos under her skirt. She filmed the encounter and forced the lewd dude to destroy his camera’s memory card by chewing on it. While that’s not necessarily an advisable tactic to fight sexual harassment on a major scale, it sure is satisfying to see. As for whether China’s all-woman bus will end up being an effective tactic for mitigating sexual harassment during the daily commute is still to be discovered, but it sure is depressing as fuck that we even think we need this.