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14.5.05

Refuge From Groping

Women-only Train Cars Irritate Some Men

... Several of the Japanese capital's railway companies introduced the single-sex carriages Monday as part of a city effort to tackle the problem of men who take advantage of overcrowding to grope female passengers.

In a Tokyo survey last year, almost two thirds of women aged between 20 and 40 said they had been groped on a train.

... "Women-only carriages are a form of discrimination against men," one opponent told the Asahi Shimbun daily.

-- via Iconochron


Yes, this is discrimination against men. But it's justified discrimination, because it leads to a reduction in other forms of harm and discrimination. For the anonymous opponent's case to hold water, he would have to make one of two additional arguments: 1) that the plight of men on the remaining coed cars is worse than the plight of women being groped on a fully coed train (which is absurdly unlikely to be true), or 2) the government should pursue a clean-hands policy with respect to sexism, a philosophical orientation based on an unjustifiably strict act/omission distinction.

I wonder, though, about the fate of those women who by choice or necessity continue to ride in coed cars. It seems they would experience even more groping for both structural and message reasons. Structurally, women-only cars would increase the ratio of men to women on the coed cars, thus making the remaining women bigger targets. The option of a woman-only car would also create the false impression in lechers' minds that women who ride coed cars are consenting, even asking, to be groped, thus reducing gropers' inhibitions. (Note that I am not saying these concerns outweigh the good done by women-only cars -- they just reinforce Iconochron's point that this is a Band-Aid on a deeper problem.)

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