Blog-wise I’ve been pretty quiet on the Labour Leadership contest (I know, I know… I’ve not shut up about it in person or on facebook, twitter etc) as there are enough other people writing about it. But today I just feel like I have to get a few things off my chest having read some very silly reactions from otherwise sensible people to the women-only carriages thing mentioned (not proposed, mentioned) by Jeremy Corbyn.
Every few days or so the Corbyn campaign release a policy statement on a certain area and today it was tackling street harassment. CAN WE JUST STOP THERE AND TAKE IN THE ENORMITY OF WHAT I HAVE JUST WRITTEN? This is a candidate standing for election as leader of a major political party making tackling street harassment for women a policy priority. That is what should be headline news and generating praise but instead people are imploding with rage at the fact that he referred to women only carriages as a potential solution to the fear and discomfort many women face when travelling on public transport at night. In actual fact, this was a minor part of six main proposals:
• Working Together – Call regional summits of local authorities, universities, transport authorities, police, women’s organisations and campaigns to stop street harassment to discuss practical steps that will tackle this.
• Elected Representatives – Encourage local authorities to appoint cabinet positions for women’s safety. Create a Ministerial role for women’s safety.
• Police Hotline – Set up a hotline, which is run by the police but is dedicated to reporting harassment and assault. This would be staffed 24/7 by women, so that women can text to report or call with confidence that they will not be made to feel small or dismissed. If a home visit is needed for a statement, this should also be done by women.
• Public Awareness – Advertising campaign on public transport, on billboards, TV and cinemas aimed at combatting street sexism, and raise awareness of the effects of street harassment.
• Consultation on public transport: Some women have raised with Jeremy that a solution to the rise in assault and harassment on public transport could be to introduce women only carriages. My intention would be to make public transport safer for everyone from the train platform, to the bus stop to on the mode of transport itself. However, I would consult with women and open it up to hear their views on whether women-only carriages would be welcome – and also if piloting this at times and modes of transport where harassment is reported most frequently would be of interest.
• Licensing – Legislate for tougher rules on what licence holders need to do in case of assault on their premises. Include reporting assault and how to respond to assault in the procedure to get a licence.
• Tackle drive-by harassment – Encourage the roll-out to other areas of the successful Bradford scheme to tackle the harassment of women, and encourage police to use public order laws and legislation protecting people from harassment to target suspects.
But lets say he DID propose women only carriages, would that be such a bad thing? Harassment is not going to end over night, it will take a massive shift in attitudes which can only be brought about by education (starting with proper sex and relationship education in schools, another Corbyn proposal by the way). Until then women deserve to be able to be free to travel as and when they want without fear of abuse of any type. Women only carriages, where women could choose (not be forced, as some people seem to think!) to travel are an important short-term solution to that problem.
I’m not a 100% convinced, but I would be willing to give it a try. Which is what Jeremy Corbyn in saying. Along with a whole raft of other policies dedicated to making the UK (and the world) a more equal society, in terms of sex, class, race, age…