The train stations in the Philippines are segregated. There are special carts for a certain group of people–the elderly, children, the disabled, and women. I got nothing against these people, and I understand this is like a “courtesy lane” where you give special treatment to certain members of society that need a little consideration. But why are women, grown adults at that, categorized with the “helpless”?
I don’t want to sound discriminatory by labeling the elderly, the disabled, and children as helpless, but I guess I’m just trying to find a world that points to a certain physical condition that is a natural consequence of their situation or age.
Many disabled individuals are in wheelchairs because by definition they are physically challenged in some sort of way. There are others though who are mentally challenged, but I guess this courtesy space is allotted for them so that they are not stressed out while riding the regular carriages. The elderly have their years to blame for their brittle bones and rheumatic joints, while children have their lack of years and pint sizes to blame for their young strength. Although there are also strong elderly individuals and kids.
But with women, we are not, by definition, physically challenged. Just because a person has ovaries, doesn’t mean that one is automatically weak. There are some women who do not exercise, which makes them physically weak, just as there are men who are physically weak, but when women are boxed into the weakness category, it makes stereotypes so easy to believe.
Segregation and sexual harassment
I know there’s also another reason why women are segregated from men and that is because many men grope women in the mrt. I don’t think segregation is the right policy. What the government should do is teach men not to grope women. No matter how sexy her dress is or how low her cleavage is, men still don’t have the right to molest her.
But of course I often go to the only-women carts because it’s a safe haven. So I guess it’s an effective stop-gap mechanism to protect women while we are still waiting for men to smarten up and realize that it’s not ok to grope women. But we cannot stop there. Education and awareness campaigns against sexual harassment are still necessary.
And how about those women who, for one reason or another, end up in the male-dominated carts? Their reasons: they are in a hurry and the train is about to leave, so they have no time to walk to the end of the line just to go to the special carts; they are riding the train with a male friend; the special carts are full (because instead of allotting half the carts to men and another half to women, which makes more sense because I guess the population is almost equally divided between the two sexes, but those in charge decided to allot only a few carts to women).
In these instances, the women in the other carts can still get groped. They can still get harassed. We need to challenge the culture of sexual harassment until each man knows that he cannot access a woman’s body without her consent.
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