Is it a coincidence that whenever news about sexual assaults against women and children are on the rise, magically from somewhere male politicians will appear suggesting to solve the issue by shoving women into gender-segregated busses and trains? Two municipalities, both run by AKP mayors, have decided to put the idea into practice. First the mayor of Malatya announced that two of the new trams his municipality was going to purchase would be reserved exclusively for women, and be painted pink. The mayor declared that the decision, an act of “positive discrimination for women” as he put it, was made upon the request of female university students who started a petition to make their voice for “comfortable transportation” heard. Just a few days later, the Bursa municipality reacted similarly upon a change.org campaign titled “End to Sexual Harrasment with a pink wagon!”. More than three thousand people signed the petition which requested separate wagons for female passengers to protect them from the crowds and an atmosphere that often enables sexual harassment. The municipality reserved the last two wagons of Bursaray (tramline of Bursa) with the following inscription on the platform: “wagon with priority for ladies”.
The implementations caused reactions, both in the respective cities and among women's organizations nationwide. In Malatya, members of the municipal council from the opposition party CHP declared that this was the start to a gradual isolation of women from social life. They argued that sexual assault is more likely to occur in places where women are confronted with men when they're alone. Hence, the solution would not lie in segregation but in the construction of a comfortable and secure public space which does not exclude but include women. In Bursa, the NGO women's platform argued that the implementation was based on the perception of sexual harassment by men as ordinary and given, hence the only cure the municipality could think of was to punish the victim not the perpetrator. Solving the problem of sexual harassment in public transportation could be possible through increasing the number of available public vehicles and providing more alternatives in public transportation, 7/24. As an explicit indication of their opposition, women in Bursa removed the women wagon sign from the railway platform.
Not only is the segregation-solution problematic as it enshrines male dominance over the public space instead of questioning it, moreover public transport vehicles are not the only place where women are confronted with the risk of sexual harassment, violence and rape. Hence the crucial question remains: “What shall women do after getting off the pink bus?”