Mill and Molesters
As my discussion section and this blog continue to debate equality between men and women in sports, my thoughts went to an article I read about Japan’s public transportation system.
To briefly summarize the article, although Japan is famous for maintaining an extremely efficient and sanitary subway system, it apparently has an issue with women being groped during rush hour travel. In a poll, 64% of women between the ages of 20 and 30 have reported being touched by subway gropers referred to as “chikans”. In order to provide relief to women, railways are allocating some carriages as “women-only”.
How would Mill feel about these separate train cars? Mill theorizes that women are considered to be weaker than men due to their lack of physical strength. He continues to explain how women were freed from slavery much later then men, and society continues to view women in a lesser light for this reason. He describes how the present system of subordination is only a theory, but society can continue to put the system of strength and weakness on trial.
The question is, do Japan’s women-only cars put the current system on trial or do they merely trap women in a subordinate role?
After the Japanese reported positive effects of the separate carriages, the trend spread to India. The New York Times has reported that some women in India are now complaining that they are often berated by men who must wait in the long lines due to the lesser number of carriages available to them. Reports of men storming the women-only cars and harassing travelers are surfacing in both Japan and India. While many women state that they feel safer from the “chikans” in these isolated train carriages, the train companies are using more resources to maintain these carriages that are transporting less people, yet are often more luxurious.
64% of women between the ages of 20 and 30 have reported being groped on trains
I think that Mill might agree that these are wasted resources that continue to cripple women. While it is important to protect the women that continue to be violated by the “chikans”, when Japan and India isolate these women in separate train cars, they are isolating them from the opportunity to break free from the shadow of subordination. These resources could be better used to address the “chikans” in a manner that empower women, not force them to eradicate themselves from difficult situations. While women-only cars may be the answer, maybe a better budget should be approved to provide an equally comfortable traveling experience between men and women.
What do you think? Are these women-only carriages giving women preferential treatment, or are Japan and India merely protecting their citizens? How do you think Mill would handle the situation?