Women’s-Only Trains are Good to Go

November 30, 2007 at 10:02 am Leave a comment

It’s long been known that Tokyo’s commuter trains have been the stomping ground for gropers, harassers and straight-up perverts. Dressed like your every day commuter simply because he is your every day commuter, he scouts the sardine-packed scene for his unassuming victim. Most people stay quiet on the train, fixing their eyes on the floor and daydreaming about the weekend, but just about that time is when the train molester, or chikan, makes his attack.

I should know because I’ve been a victim. One time it was a touch from behind, the other time it was an odd rubbing of the knee against his (Don’t ask me to reenact that one). And when they strike they do it in such a subtle way that you’re not quite sure if what’s going on is really going on. But as the harassment persists like a nagging headache you begin to realize it’s not just your imagination. So then what did I do? …Nothing.

Maybe it was the cultural mindset of not wanting to be the nail that sticks out. Maybe I was simply being a coward. Either way, I regretted not doing anything and also developed a temporary phobia for greasy older men. (Though really, young men do it too.) The odd thing was, when I started asking Japanese female friends if they’ve ever been harassed on the train, 9 out of 10 said “yes.” Of them, how many had actually done something? Less than half.


Yes, it’s a sad fact that Japanese women aren’t the most physically defensive species. That’s why I’m glad that Tokyo is now operating “Women Only” trains. During the hours of 5:30 am to 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. until the last train just after midnight, men are banned from entering certain cars marked in pink. When I jumped on the train last month and noticed men sitting down I have to admit I was a little disgusted, until I saw the posted hours. It was still only 3 p.m. It made me wonder if at the stroke of 5 p.m. those men have to make a quick exit.

So the next time you’re in Tokyo and notice a train with pink decals on the doors, check your watch. The last thing you want is to be accused of being a pervert~!


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November 2007


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