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 Monzón 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


JoAnn P
JoAnn Paris8 months ago

Thank you for this very interesting article.

antonia maestre
antonia maestre7 years ago

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

jane richmond
jane richmond7 years ago

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

Alicia N.
Alicia N8 years ago

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

Sonny Honrado
Sonny Honrado8 years ago

This will travel safe.

Maarja L.
Maarja L8 years ago

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

Loo Samantha
Loo sam8 years ago

thanks for sharing.

Bernadette P.
berny p8 years ago

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

Ameer T.
Ameer T8 years ago

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.

Christine S.

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?