Labour MP Chris Williamson has said that women-only train carriages could help tackle the rise in sexual offences on public transport. Speaking to PoliticsHome, the shadow fire and emergency services secretary said there was “merit” in examining the creation of a “safe space” for women.
His opinion on women’s safety has not gone down well.
Fellow Labour MP Jess Phillips shot down the idea on Twitter, calling it “terrible” and a way to ignore the root of the problem:
Phillips is not the only one to condemn Williamson’s thoughts, as many other politicians and public transport users took to Twitter to point out the fatal flaw in his thinking:
When women-only train carriages were presented as a policy in Jeremy Corbyn’s 2015 campaign, it was quickly dropped following a similar backlash. The same arguments stand today – segregation of women and men is not the answer to stopping sexual assault on public transport. As Jess Phillips and the many other women are pointing out, more effort and focus is needed on condemning the men who think it is okay to grope, or intimidate, or film a woman when she is simply trying to get from A to B.
A freedom of information request by the BBC earlier this year showed that 1,448 sexual offences on public transport had been reported in the past year, compared to just 650 in 2012 - 2013 – that’s more than doubled in the last five years. At the time of this news, Alexandra Heminsley wrote about how her experience of a sexual assault on a London train became one of those reports. “I know that reporting it isn’t just cathartic but is also constructive and empowering,” she wrote. “I hope it never happens to you, but I also hope you’ll report it if it does.”
Encourage women to report assaults, give adequate punishment to men who commit them, and don’t segregate women for the acts of men. That’s how you tackle sexual assault on public transport, Chris Williamson.