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Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Separate train cars for women in Egypt starting today

From Egypt Independent:

The Egyptian Railways Authority is set to enforce women’s-only train cars on several popular routes to and from the capital starting Wednesday.

The move is part of its efforts to curb sexual harassment, which is rampant across the country.

According to state-run daily newspaper Al Ahram, the No. 909 train connecting Cairo and Alexandria departing at 9am will host the first women’s car.

The No. 957 train to Zagazig and the No. 513 train to al-Qanater al-Khaireyah will also boast exclusive cars for women.

Several rights and women’s groups claim the rate of sexual harassment and violence has increased sharply as of late.
So far, the article makes it sound like this is a move purely to protect women, and not an Islamist initiative. But then things get a little fuzzier:
Egyptian women are already afforded private Metro cars in Cairo, which comprise the only public transportation that separates genders.

In 2008, an Egyptian court dismissed a lawsuit filed by two lawyers demanding the end of women’s-only cars on the grounds that separating the sexes violates gender equality.

The court ruled that allocating cars to women did not fall under its jurisdiction and added that Islamic law emphasizes respect for women, which obligates the state to protect them.
So are the Islamists now using the epidemic of sexual abuse of women in public as an excuse to further separate the genders? Or is this simply what must be done temporarily until Egyptian laws start taking this abuse seriously?

Unless we see that women activists are demanding the separate train cars, I'm afraid the former is the more likely explanation.