Room is hard to find. So when the Guangzhou government began reserving cars for female passengers worried about being groped and harassed, they filled up — but not with the intended passengers.
“Men are totally clueless,” said Lu Lili, a 28-year-old bank employee, who was waiting for a train on Guangzhou’s Line 1 to appear. “It’s basically all the men trying to squeeze in.”
She gestured at the passengers like her, waiting for a women-only car. Many were men.
“In the past, there would be workers trying to tell them and remind them repeatedly: ‘This is a women-only car,’” she said. “But all these men still want to rush over. They really are uncivilized.”
The women-only subway cars are in many ways a metaphor for China. It is a country with too many laws but, in many areas, too little enforcement. The government bans gender discrimination but does not define what it is. Those who complain risk getting punished. As a result, women who have been sexually harassed rarely file police reports. Offenders are almost never brought to justice.