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Guatemala Introduces Women-Only Buses

Guatemala Introduces Women-Only Buses

In an attempt to protect women from sexual harassment, IPS is reporting that Guatemala City’s transit system launched a women’s only bus pilot project a couple of weeks ago. There are now dozens of women-only buses running during peak hours (6:00 to 7:30 am and 5:30 to 7:00 pm). Other than drivers, the only males allowed on the buses are boys under the age of twelve. The pilot was introduced due to the large number of complaints about men groping and rubbing up against women and girls on buses.

These buses are a small step in helping women to feel safer in Guatemala, which the United Nations lists as one of the most violent countries. The buses being used in the pilot program are newer buses with improved safety measures, such as prepaid cards, video cameras and security guards on buses. While IPS reported that women do feel safer on these buses, they also noted “off the bus, harassment is still an issue.” Ultimately, the buses are not the solution to Guatemala’s problems, but they may help remove one small stressor from the lives of women who deal with violence day in and day out.

Guatemala City is not the first city to introduce women-only buses. There were also women-only buses introduced this month in Bandung, Indoensia. In 2010, women-only buses were introduced in Malaysia, and in 2008 they were introduced in Mexico City. Back in 2009, Care2 reported on several other female-only transportation initiatives:

Following what seems to be something of an international trend, the Mexican city of Puebla has offered a new service to women plagued by “leering drivers”: a fleet of taxis, driven by women and catering exclusively to women.† This comes on the heels of women-only train cars in Japan and Brazil, all-female transportation in Tehran, and “ladies’ specials” in India, all designed to free women from the sexual harassment that public transportation seems inevitably to bring.

The problem, of course, with all of these women-only transportation initiatives is that they are treating the symptoms, rather than the causes of sexual harassment. Of course they are a good idea and help to provide women with some level of protection in an environment where they are unsafe. However the bigger challenge is addressing the culture that makes it both acceptable and common for women to be sexually harassed and abused.† In the IPS article, Ana Silvia Monzůn of the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences was quoted as saying: “I hope it’s only temporary and that men’s behaviour will improve, but for that to happen, other measures are needed as well.”

Related Stories:

Teaching Dental Care to Children in Guatemala

Female Journalists Reluctant to Report Sexual Assault

World Day Against Child Labor and How You Can Help

 

Image credit: sikeri on flickr

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50 comments

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9:26PM PDT on Sep 15, 2011

Would'nt it be better to educate men so they don't bother women?

10:37AM PDT on Sep 5, 2011

Good idea if no other choice. but isn't this avoiding the problem rather than fixing it.

11:57AM PDT on Jul 11, 2011

Great! a little protection is better than none.......

7:01AM PDT on Jul 7, 2011

This will travel safe.

1:12PM PDT on Jul 2, 2011

It isn't a long-term solution, but it is a solution.

9:12PM PDT on Jun 29, 2011

thanks for sharing.

6:41AM PDT on Jun 29, 2011

Women only buses only hide the problem and do nothing to really solve the problem. Awareness education and security are what is needed.


1:31AM PDT on Jun 29, 2011

This is a step in the right direction. segregation of the sexes solves some issues. adressing the problem at large may be adressed through awareness and education as time goes by but for an immediate solution this is good and should not be discouraged.

10:11PM PDT on Jun 28, 2011

Separate but equal? In this case, I say it makes sense if idiot men can't leave the poor women alone. Of course, like Gianna M. said- why don't they attack the root of the problem rather than putting a band-aid on it?

10:10PM PDT on Jun 28, 2011

BANDAIDE ON A DEEP AND GUSHING WOUND WON'T HELP. IF SECURITY IS AVAILABLE TO MAN THE BUSES, WHY ISN'T THERE AN ENFORCEMENT MEASURE DISPERSED THROUGHOUT THE AREA? THAT WAY NOT JUST BUS RIDES BECOME SAFER, BUT OTHER DAILY AVENUES OF HARASSMENT.

OF COURSE THIS ASSUMES PROPER LAWS, ENFORCEMENT AND APPROPRIATE PUNISHMENT FOR OFFENDERS ARE TAKEN ON AS WELL. TOO LARGE AND EXPENSIVE AN UNDERTAKING? TOO LARGE A COMMITMENT? You're probably right ... got more bandaides?

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Beth Buczynski Beth is a freelance writer and editor living in the Rocky Mountain West. So far, Beth has lived in... more
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