A nation’s law and order situation can be gauged by the existence of exclusive ‘women’s-only’ compartments in trains. When a country creates reserved spaces for women in its public spaces including trains, it indicates its empathy and sincerity towards ensuring safety of women. But it is also a symptom of its inability to provide 100% security to half of its population and a toothless judicial system.
Take Delhi as an example. Delhi Metro began running its classy, air-conditioned trains in 2002 with general compartments. Four years later, in 2006, DMRC (Delhi Metro Rail Corporation) was forced to reserve one compartment exclusively in all metro trains at all times when it became clear that the twin problems of groping and women’s molestation were so rampant that they could not be controlled through punitive action alone. Ever since then, Delhi Metro has turned into the safest and the most civilized space in Delhi. Women can travel in other compartments too in these trains, but men can’t travel in the ladies-only compartments. This rule is implemented very strictly and has been made a legal offense.
During Commonwealth Games in 2014, I got the chance to interact with a European woman in a Delhi Metro train. She was amused to find so many woman gathered together at one place. “Very unusual in my country,” she remarked.
Countries like Israel, Japan, India, Egypt, Iran, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, Phillipines, Malaysia, and UAE also have ladies-only compartments in their trains. But Singapore, which is famous for its exemplary standards in discipline, cleanliness, and orderliness in public spaces, has no ladies-only compartment in its MRT!
This proves what I am trying to say through this article, which is, that women-only spaces are needed only when law and order situation is not under control.
One Singaporean blogger ( (http://this-is-not-a-blog-.blogspot.in/2006/03/woman-only-train-compartments-in.html) concluded his article on this topic with “Woman only trains? Go to another country if you want them.“
Here’s another pic from inside a ladies compartment of the Delhi Metro.