Does Britain need women-only train carriages to tackle sex crime?
Shadow fire minister Chris Williamson said it is worth reconsidering the idea after it was first suggested by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn during his first leadership campaign in 2015.
Williamson raised the proposal on Twitter when he shared figures from the British Transport Police (BTP), which show sexual offences on UK transport networks have risen to 1,448 in 2016-17, up from 650 in 2012-13.
Similar measures have been introduced in Brazil, Japan and Mexico. Williamson said it should be tried out in Britain, as it could create a “safe space.”
“Complemented with having more guards on trains, it would be a way of combating these attacks, which have seen a very worrying increase in the past few years,” Williamson told PoliticsHome.
“I’m not saying it has to happen, but it may create a safe space. It would be a matter of personal choice whether someone wanted to make use of it.”
The idea was widely attacked when Corbyn proposed it two years ago during the Labour leadership race. His rivals, particularly Yvette Cooper and Liz Kendall, exploited the spat to undermine his campaign.
The measure has yet again met with hostility, both within the Labour Party and beyond.
Labour MP for Walthamstow Stella Creasy argued it would “normalize” sexual harassment.
“Can we make all carriages safe for all passengers rather than restricting where we can go?” she tweeted.
Doesn’t keep women safe to restrict their movements-it normalises attacks. We need to be clear they are problem, not women’s seating plans..— stellacreasy (@stellacreasy) August 22, 2017
“[It] doesn’t keep women safe to restrict their movements – it normalizes attacks. We need to be clear they [the attackers] are problem, not women’s seating plans.”
Labour MP for Birmingham Yardley, Jess Phillips, also hit out at the idea, suggesting it is reminiscent of conservative policies typical of Arab states.
“It is essentially giving up on trying to prosecute assaults. Also, men should be incredibly annoyed by [the] suggestion they can’t control themselves,” she tweeted.
My hot take on women's only carriages. Absolutely terrible idea. It is essentially giving up on trying to prosecute assaults— Jess Phillips (@jessphillips) August 22, 2017
“Sexual violence isn’t about urges, it’s about power. If you take your feminist cues from Saudi Arabia, you’ve gone wrong.”
Co-founder of the Women’s Equality Party Catherine Mayer said the group would oppose the measure this time round just as it had back in 2015.
While this appears to have been stuck on Williamson's office door...