I subscribe to the idea of gender equality. It is clear enough in this world right now women are making more impact compared to men and it is naive to disregard the existence of women.

If you take a closer look, you will see more corporate women instead of men, most leaders now are women and even more women became judges! Needless to say, more lawyers are female too.

It is difficult to make a clear distinction between women and females and why is it so? Age. It is impressed upon us that women are people who are at least in the thirties, and have set their foot in many of the industries whereas females range from any age.

It would be different and much easier to differentiate men and women or male and female. Apart from their physical appearance, what else is different? This gap is getting smaller and smaller and it also appears women have replaced men “di persada dunia”. I will now use the term “females”, “ladies” and “women” interchangeably here.

Having this in mind, what’s the need of special coaches for ladies in KTM and special Rapid busses for females? Question: are they being sexist?

I am a diehard fan of public transport simply because I take trains and bus to my destinations, which of course includes my workplace and college in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.

I once, accidentally went into the KTM’s ladies coach and one lady sounded me while pointing to the sign “Ladies Coach”. All the ladies are sitting comfortably and she sounded me simply because I am sitting on the very last empty seat. I got up, apologised and changed to the next side as soon as I reached the next station.

Perhaps many ladies and gentlemen have strongly established the need and importance of having such privilege for women. It is for the safety in terms of from sexual harassment and theft and to prevent them from happening. I too, understand the issues here as I am always sardined between men and women in trains. But do such incidents happen only to women?

If we establish that women are of the same standards as men, why are there such hassles to implement something like this? I reckon, rather than appreciating and acknowledging their status as to being on par with men, we are actually condoning the demoloshment of this respect. In the end, what they enjoy is just extra comfort which would burden the rest.

On a side note, the usual flaws would be the implementation without proper planning. I would accept this idea if it does not cause hardships to the rest of the public members.

KTM’s decision to have a pink coach and RapidKL’s implementation of having busses specially designated for ladies ONLY carry tremendous flaws which are totally unacceptable. Being a user of the public transport system in this country, you may share my opinion regardless of your gender as a result of your everyday experience.

In the context of KTM, the ladies coach is one of the existing coaches available for the entire train. Assuming that there are 4 carriages, one of them would be exclusive for ladies and the rest would be left in limbo. More often than not, while ladies could board the ladies coach, the men would be left scrambling for the remaining coaches.

Furthermore, ladies have the right to board other coaches as long as they like. You may be surprised to know that they are much stronger because in reality, they commit battery on others more than men. Time is wasted and until they add carriages, this will continue to be a bad idea and opposed to the idea of gender equality.

In relation to RapidKL, a similar effect occurs. Apparently, they did conduct a proper study to understand the problems faced from KTM’s implementation before deciding so. Imagine if they have busses catered for ladies, men would be left waiting and nothing else. I must say this implementation will receive support from the ladies because waiting for RapidKL’s busses are real pain.

Regretfully, every time when I pass the bus depot, there will be hundreds of busses stationed under maintenance. In this regard, it is difficult to ascertain as to whether their implementation was backed by the idea of having more busses available on the road. Of course, by the end of this, you will appreciate traffic congestion will also contribute to this issue if more busses are deployed on the road.

After all these, I realise gender equality comes with a price. Whilst the ideas are good provided careful study and appreciation on the practicality of such implementations are conducted, this doctrine of “equality” means nothing if we are to put others suffering in order to cater to one party’s enjoyment. So why talk about gender equality?

Again, I stress why promote gender equality when in practice  we do not appreciate it?

Chris aspires to be a good lawyer. He will not let the fate of the curious cat get in the way of experiencing the new and embracing opportunities to learn. He thanks his lucky stars that he continues to meet fantastic characters from all walks of life, particularly LoyarBurokkers(!), who contribute in making him a wiser person. Life experiences are guides even to heaven’s door. Be amused by his jottings and tweets @christan_yh

42 replies on “Gender Equality – Planning First?”

  1. Chris, you don't need to apologise to me. A more credible approach to analyses of issues comes as we grow (assuming we want to). We are all learning, and it's very commendable that you are taking in the critiques. I guess the lesson in that vein is that we should be quick to listen and slower to speak our views.

    Here is an article that I read just today, and I think you would enjoy it – it is very long, but a compelling read, and supported by personal experience as well as objective research. He has even briefly mentioned Malaysia…as one of the developing places getting better (hooray!). Oppression against women is real – and apparently the world would be a better place if this is stopped. In the end, we all have to respect one another, male / female, lawyer / non-lawyer, writer / reader…

  2. Alicia: Thank you!

    Kartina: I did not intend to do so, but if I did at any point, please accept my apology.

  3. Like your article isn't a personal attack on women, Chris. Pfft. Your ego is just bruised. You'll get over it.

  4. Apology accepted, Chris. And I'm happy that you're gracious enough to concede to your failings as a writer. We all learn from mistakes.

    The tone taken many female commentors, Kartina and myself included to address the inadequacies of your article was in no way meant to attack you personally, but rather a reaction to sweeping statements that could've easily taken for granted by those who do want to believe that we as Malaysians already have gender equality and want to justify the fact that the struggle to restore justice is redundant and simply a cacophony of oversensitive women. Lack of knowledge is a very poor excuse for a poorly unsubstantiated article when well-documented experiences related to street harassment and assault are involved.

    You are more than entitled to your views, but prepared to take a good and civil lashing with they get mixed up with fiction dressed up as hard facts.

  5. Dear all, thank you for your comments. My apologies for not reverting much earlier.

    I know I have many readers/commentators to respond to. But first allow me to reiterate the idea behind this. When I wrote of this article, my idea was to comment on the development of women in this society. The next thing I went into was the decision to implement segregation for KTM coaches and busses. Here I said there is no necessity for us to have that in the expense of others' comfort. As a precaution, I wrote that if RapidKL & KTM have made careful planning before implementation, it will be much better.

    My belief is, I believe in gender equality and my personal view on this was as a result of developments on female's side.

    I notice some readers here mentioned about unsupported facts. In all honesty, please accept my apology. Audrey pointed out about what it takes to be a good lawyer – which I think is very enlightening. I thank you for this.

    I believe somehow we protracted too much on issues of harassments. But I have noted your comments and inputs for my reference. It has been an invaluable learning curve for me as well, as I honestly admit.

    I do not however agree to Kartina's comment at some point about sexism. I think her comment does relate to somewhat a personal attack.

    I have admitted in the forum at one point that my lack of knowledge and in depth views made people who read this unfair as well as being unfair to myself. I carefully thought about this as well.

    My apologies to Audrey for spoiling your first time. & once again, thank you for all your comments & feedbacks.

  6. Haris,
    Short answer, yes and that precludes condescension or thinking women should be considered inferior or not be held to standards of merits. Long answer requires an article. Look at the history of the African americans if that helps slightly

  7. Does discrimination in favour of women today right the wrongs of them being discriminated against in the past? In many cases the individuals reaping the benefits of these policies today have never actually been discriminated against. How is that justified?

  8. Chris,

    So much has already been contributed by other comments prior to my even reading your article (bravo especially to Alicia, Jo-Lene, Kartina, I wish there had been some men making the point which is the only one worth re-emphasizing, and quite neutrally too). I hope you'll take this one in good stead, and whilst I'll be painfully frank, this is not a personal attack. I just think it's worth pointing out once more a really crucial matter that you don't seem to have digested in the flurry of other issues being discussed amongst the comments above.

    What I have left to remind you of is this: whilst you aspire to be a good lawyer, you also keep sweeping aside the rather justified criticisms that you had, in your article, made certain sweeping statements that frankly, are not rooted in fact. They are only based on your apparent perceptions of the world around you. But whilst I think we are all a little influenced by our subjective experiences, you need to be able to come up with hard facts to undergird your views. All you had to do was scratch the surface of Google's vast resources and you would know straight away that globally, women are still (a great deal) more at risk to abuse, trafficking, and all manner of discrimination. Suffice to say, I don't intend to do the hard work for you and give you a cheatlist of all the myriad sources you could check.

    It is not because women are inferior to men, but they are generally, and c'mon girls, are you really going to disagree with this? – of a gentler disposition and less aggro (sans PMS time). Women are incredibly strong, amazing creatures from numerous aspects, but we all have to agree that they are, to take one example, physically smaller and therefore more vulnerable to physical abuse. Even if you happen to hang out with more tall women than short ones, and try to compare Nordic women to Asian men, statiscally women all over the planet are generally physically smaller than men. Therefore in a darkened world that still houses greedy, wicked opppressors, it statistically follows that women are generally subject to a lot more of this kind of abuse, i.e. in this case, the physical. One example. Another reason why I think lawyers should study economics too, although the connections should be obvious with a little effort. I'll also give you a bonus observation – has it ever occurred to you that the reason why you think "Wow, this woman CEO is so XYZ?" or "Oh, lady boss ah?" or that you are impressed or surprised by the disproportionate numbers of corporate women you see, is because this is generally NOT the case?

    It's more the exception than the rule, hence, you notice. Now perhaps if you take a closer look at facts rather than just your small world after all, you might see more clearly, and accurately, that it is hopelessly untrue to opine that "most leaders are women", etc. Perhaps if most leaders were women there would be less wars in the world, but let's not go there lest I be accused of gender bias;)

    Ironically, in many places women are treated with less respect despite the fact that in patriarchal societies women shoulder far heavier responsibilities (which is why many microfinancing ventures prefer to lend to women, who generally make better use of the entrepreneurial / development funds and impact their communities. Yes, HERE'S A POINT WHERE I AGREE WITH YOU ABOUT WOMEN MAKING MORE OF AN IMPACT!)

    Now whilst everyone is entitled to their own views, including the child pornographer who deludedly thinks his work is art, I think you really need to be more careful before making unverified statements such as those found in the first few paragraphs of your article, which don't deserve any sort of further repetition here. A good lawyer needs to base his arguments on a lot more than just his personal perception – although a good lawyer often uses personal experiences to help him understand the issues before him, and to apply any wisdom he has so garnered from those experiences to the situation in question. You should always check your facts before opining on something that is factual e.g. the statistics on women, on rights, and on discrimination.

    Why is it that people are working to free up access to education, employment, and basic human rights to women more than men? Don't you think there's a reason why? Is it because people just have random gender bias towards women, like these unjustified female coaches which I'm sure a lot of travelling women in KL are unspeakably grateful for? No, it is to correct the imbalance that has been created from previous gender prejudice against women in the past. We're still very far from where we ought to be, Chris. Like someone pointed out, the ideal would be not to need the separate carriages, if everyone could just respect each other and treat each other right. The ideal would be that when I walk through the streets of KL I don't need to be extra careful how I hold my handbag. But until that larger state of things can be corrected, I think we should be grateful for efforts to protect women and prevent undue harrassment as much as possible. Thanks for writing, but I do hope you find something more noteworthy to attack-rant about next time.

    You also have the privilege of being the only person whose article I have ever stopped to comment on, so horrified was I by your ingenuously under-supported statements of non-fact.

    But you are young, and you have one huge advantage, young man: you are obviously surrounded by some very capable, highly competent women, who will certainly make an inescapably positive impact on your life, leaving you all the better for it.

  9. I dislike the idea of women's coaches because it encourages women to feel powerless and think themselves powerless that they need to be cloistered into a separate train coach to protect themselves from gatal men.

    I am of the view that women should feel that if some gatal men kacau them, they can give those men a piece of the woman's mind and shame on the men for it. Women shouldn't feel that they cannot fight back or defend themselves.

    In that, I think is seriously lacking in the overall education of women in Malaysia. Being told it's our fault, being told that we are the weaker sex, that we are lesser than men, it's not condusive towards gender equality. At least from my pov and background.

    In short, little life lessons like this need to be in our sex education.

    I do not deny abuses happen, but come on ladies. Abuses happen because we let the men get away with it. If we go superwoman and make sure that the gatal male population kena free by society if they even think about doing such a thing, lesser and lesser folk would attempt it.

    People do stuff they think they can away with. We just make sure that the ball is in our court and make them suffer.

    My two cents.

    P.S : Hey, not being in the same coach with sweaty smelly men has an appeal to me too, but not at the expense of gender equality/progress.

  10. There is a diff between equality and equitability

    Gender equality tends to be used to refer to equal rights (though I concede that the putting together of the terms gender+ equal sometimes make it less obvious and murky, and some people see it as a biological equation)

    Gender equitability means equating one gender with the other, which latter day feminists have been careful to argue against.

    It is oxymoronic to put feminist + chauvinist in the same sentence. You are probably referring to female chauvinist who demand all the equal rights to that of a man while also be accorded preferential treatment e.g. I want to climb the corporate ladder, do my own thing, and make big bucks, but I also want the partner in my life to be in charge and be responsible for everything else in our shared life or be treated preferentially (of course, there is also another gray line on how one defines preferential). Of course, they could either be men-hating for no apparent reason or female-hating for the reason of insecurity. I'll say the same thing for men too (misogynists and bullies).

    This draws away from thesis of the article, but we have to be careful with the use of words, because these are not merely matters of semantics, but are necessary for understanding concepts and the way we view the world

  11. Dear All,

    I don't get it.

    Everyone agrees that implementing women-only coaches is the government's way of skirting a bigger issue.

    What's with all the unnecessary batting back and forth over trivial matters? Point of this post has been taken – it's downright idiotic to have women-only coaches when they don't:

    1 – take more measures to compensate with more wagons(KTM) and buses.

    2 – handle the bigger issue at hand which are the pervy, sex-crazed assholes who make life difficult and are the reason behind this implementation in the first place. Here's where education plays a HUGE role. But let's not go into the details of how uneducated most Malaysians do turn up to be. That in itself would require more than a mere post to sum up all the missing parts.

    About gender issues and what-not.. You girls needs to take a chill pill. Really. Focus on the whole story and not just what you want to see and pick on that small fact. The point is THERE.

    I repeat. The point is not whether or not women deserve the females only coaches. Point here is EDUCATION and lack of proper implementation of resources(public transportation). Nuff said.

    On gender equality, I'd go so far as to say that gender equality doesn't exist and will never exist simply because men and women are as different as day and night, the biological make-up, hormones, physical attributes, etc. It's not that either sex is more superior – More like, each gender has its own set of qualities that are notably distinct and yet complementary when put together. I notice that projects with both male and female participants in the group generally do a lot better than single sex groups. (Take note that everyone is equally qualified, knowledgeable and dedicated)

    So the bigger picture here is that instead of gender equality, people should learn to embrace the differences and work around these differences to come to a balance. Oh so very idealistic of me, I suppose.

    Problem with this will be the overly feministic liberalists(female chauvinistic pigs as I like to call them) and overly chauvinistic males that pervade the current society… That and the fact that the media does nothing to help with gender stereotyping.

  12. Batu 5,

    If by "suffer" you and Chris mean being packed into crowded buses and train coaches, and summarily chased out of a women-only coaches, then that's not suffer, that's just too bad. Please do not trivialise what "suffering" really means. Unless you or Chris have a serious case of claustrophobia, then perhaps that's different but all public transport are bad for the claustrophobic.

    The hypothetical case of a man being charged for sexual harassment for tapping a woman on the shoulder is either a fanciful story you've just cooked up or a baseless case that trivialises what sexual harassment at work really is.

    What does the shoulder-tap mean? An unsolicited invitation to sexual relations for a promotion? were they the only ones in the office and the man was naked, but sexually unattractive to the woman in question? Are people stupid enough to sound alarm bells when a man makes an innocent physical contact with a member of the opposite sex?

  13. Alicia,

    I appreciate your sarcasm. Thanks. It feel what Chris is trying to convey to us all. I do believe in protection for women in certain cases (such as domestic abuse and the concept of Battered Wife Syndrome), however there are limitations on preferential treatment conferred to a group based on their gender.

    Look around you. A guy taps a girl on a shoulder at an office and he can be charged for sexual harassment. Even misguided comments can land someone a charge.

    Giving a group rights doesn't mean that another group should suffer.

  14. Chris,

    You're complaining about how sexism (and NOT gender equality) ruins your chance to enjoy a comfortable train ride. We are not going to sympathize with you, because outside of the ladies' coach, (most) women face a worse degree of sexism. The ladies' coach is but one of the few public places where women don't have to fear for their safety. Your pain is our gain, and so be it, because everywhere else women are made to feel like shit in the society and men are able to exercise their privilege if they want to. We want men to feel like shit too, and seems like we've succeeded… with this ladies' coach thingy! But the sad reality is that, no, you're still not going to be sexually discriminated against as bad as women are. So your understanding of how sexism works against you is limited to being kicked out of the ladies' coach and being harassed a few times.

    The funny thing about male privilege is that, if you're a man, you don't see it, because it's so normal to you and even to most people in the society. Yet when it's women who are "privileged", suddenly gender equality is BAD and all those women are having too great a time in their ladies' coaches, doing their womanly thingy i.e. sitting down, minding their own business.

    And may I suggest a link where you can educate yourself all you want to – about "rape myth", "privilege", "gender equality", perhaps even "feminism 101" (gasp!) – without Harley or the rest of us having to guide every baby-step you take:

    It's that easy!

  15. Dear Chris,

    The existing fight for gender equality is not the same as gender equality being achieved.

    Patriarchy is still around, and that is the only way how and why a step such as implementing gender-segregation in public transportation could have happened!

    1) The fact that women face sexual harassment

    2) And that so many among us do not see the underlying concept behind women-only coaches is that "lets tell women where their place is" and "if you want to avoid harassment, stay away from men" ?!?!

    3) But instead you and Star Metro last week report only focused on men's complaints that its discrimination against men!

    You have also quoted some rather limited observations and used as a sweeping yardstick. For example, there is a class perspective to be noted when you talk about more women lawyers and judges. What about women in other vocations? Have you considered that women's realities change with time – feminists have made great strides and there is no place for outright sexism but subtler forms do exist.

    That your knowledge is limited cannot be used as a defence to your article. It can however excuse you for you current views. What's important is that we try to learn from others who have more experience.

    Perhaps you feel that some commentators here have not tried to engage with you. It is always easier to react and write with anger, I should know.

    Attacks, especially those of a personal nature only isolate others. We should all instead work on helping enrich each other's views. We're all on a lifelong learning journey ya :)

    So yes, there is a definite right or wrong. That's what Human Rights seeks.

    I won't go into the topic of gender-segregation in public spaces, because Jana has explained its problems very well.

    I do need to point out that gender-segregation in areas where sexual harassment is rampant is a good band-aid measure until underlying issues are resolved. I personally get around in the comfort of a car, so my being against gender-segregation may be one of privilege (though my opinion that it does not resolve anything and merely is another way of controlling women does not change). As such, a friend will be riding the train and doing a review of the Pink Coach for Stop Motion Project, so that we don't pontificate theories from our personally vehicles :)

    P/S: Perhaps it is because I know you personally, and realise that you are young and eager, have your heart in the right place, and develop further so long as you don't stop learning.

    Do join me when my team launches "Stop Motion Project: when does the violence begin?" – coming in February :D

  16. Batu 5,

    Women-only coaches were introduced in Malaysia and now we're a matriarchal society? Chewah!!

    Do you really know what a matriarchal society is like?

  17. Harley: I am slightly lost on your comment. And my comment was referred from the video link you posted. Are you saying you have another meaning which is attached to my article here? Please educate me.

    Alicia: "Quote: To be frank with you, Chris, I read and study the Malaysian and international news on gender equality everyday without fail and it’s very rarely good news. And I do this because I’m a researcher on gender issues not because I purposely want to find fault with someone like yourself, ok?" – Nono, neither I am. I am writing based on my own views. I believe everyone are entitled to their views, no?

    You are right that no reported news or incidents being reported with men being sexually harassed. And I too agree the feeling and amount of fear anticipated by women are far greater than men. Still, to my views, it does not mean such incidents do not happen.

    Yes, I have been sexually harassed but of course I wasn't rape. There was some contact and verbal harassment being put towards me. I understand your line of argument and I am slightly worried the meaning and content of my article has been misunderstood.

    Batu 5: yes, I think you do get what I am trying to say.

    Clarissa: "However, I do see and understand your point that the conditions of the public transport in Malaysia IS bad" – Thanks. At least you do get part of the point I am trying to make here.

    Janarthani: Thanks for your input. My apologies for my limited knowledge. But again, it was meant to be associated only with this issue.

    Quote: "You feel that it is unfair to accord privileges to women based on their gender" – No, I don't feel unfair, I just feel unnecessary. Anyway it is good to have your views here.

    Kartina: I do not know whether you meant it as a personal attack. I thought all of us here are merely giving and sharing our views. Are we definite who is right and who is wrong? I am disappointed with your assumption where I can't enjoy a comfortable half an hour ride. I do not seek enjoyment, to be honest. It was an idea to write about it on how I feel and basically from what I observed. Of course, my voice do not represent anyone else but myself.

  18. Chris is not against gender segregation because it is harmful in the long run, he is against it because he can't enjoy a comfortable half-hour train ride. Only one place where men can't exercise their male privilege, and already so bitter about "gender equality".

    Let's move along, everyone. We've given him more time than he deserves.

  19. Chris,

    I find your understanding of the issues surrounding gender segregation on public transportation in Malaysia, is rather limited. You feel that it is unfair to accord privileges to women based on their gender. I understand your frustrations but bear with me, I would like to highlight a couple of things which are problematic with gender segregation in public transportation.

    A) Protectionism does not address gender inequality, in fact it is patronizing and very disempowering to women. We don't need to be protected in segregated vehicles, we need to be respected and treated equally.

    B) It is important for public spaces to be safe for everyone. Adequate steps should be taken by the state to ensure that.

    C) A lot more awareness about violence against women needs to be raised. The state should have greater political will to ensure this.

    D) Gender parity in all decision making processes to ensure women have equal access to their basic rights to determine what they need and the state should be committed to this.

    E) The government should implement non-discriminatory practices to ensure no one is marginalized.

    All that I have mentioned above are the demands made by women in Malaysia, however the state has been very tardy in its delivery. Providing gender segregated transportation is a knee-jerk response and tells of the lack of commitment by the state.

    Thanks for providing this great platform. Alicia and Kartina both were very convincing in their arguments, thank you.

  20. Chris,
    everyone needs space. Personal space. Men and Women have their own personal space and that fact needs to be respected.
    I am against segregation. We co-exist.

  21. Chris,

    The reason why you might be gravely misunderstood is that you’re suggesting that we have already achieve a sense of gender equality because women and men are equally given top jobs and are equally strong to batter each other. Women, you say, are actually stronger and more violent than they look. You might know a few women who might fit this description, but all other women?

    You see, Chris, there is a difference between simply saying that gender equality already exists and only *presuming* that men are getting the bad end of the stick because of women. And that includes men being packed into trains and buses like sardines. HOW TRAGIC!!!!

    Only *assuming* that more men suffer physical abuse at the hands of women than the other way round is a weak argument to say that women are more physically abusive than men. Geddit?

    Yes, you might’ve been sexually harassed and assaulted by women in a public place, but many more women walk in fear that worse things than simply harassment and unsolicited contact from men might befall them. If you open your eyes to the world around you, read the news, ask women on the streets, your female friends, and of course ask your male friends if they walk in fear of getting harassed by getting catcalled, leered at, molested on their genitals by women, you will find an unjust world in which men are considered strong and are the protector, and women are weak, vulnerable, and needed to be protected. The strong-weak dichotomy is mostly a myth of course, aside from some biological “truths” like higher levels testosterone in men and women can make them stronger physically.

    Do men ever worry about looking sexy in public and get unwanted attention from other women? Do men get wolf-whistled by a gang of women who would be deemed unattractive to them? Do you get stared at (not just looked at, mind, by intensely stared at) by women when you’re out wearing your more revealing clothes, as if you’re being undressed by their eyes?

    This is what sexual harassment for women like myself feels like. It’s because we’re women and girls and that we’re considered strong enough to fight back and be violent that these things continue on a daily basis in Malaysia.

  22. I just want to clarify by statement of 'biologically closed.' Intersex individuals are a lot more complex than transgendered individuals, in that they thread a perforated line of sexual ambiguity. There are many variants of them, as I'v provided in the link in my above post, and I wrote about them in 2009 for a class seminar, though I used the word 'hermaphrodites' as I wanted to refer to particular historicity and cultural aggregation of the term prior to a more PC and accurate depiction. A person could look phylogenically female but possess more dominant secondary sexual organs of the opposite sex and vice versa. I won't even go into the intricacies of the inner sex organs. The law does not provide for them, and such segregation seeks to reify particular standards of biological determinism. What people fail to see is that it's power and unlawful and unequal access to power allows for unmitigated violence to be committed against the other party. Traditionally, the law has provided men with more power while leaving women vulnerable, but it is possible for the situation to be reversed, even if that does not happen in majority of the times. That is why one should revisit the Women and Girls Protection Act to understand that such measures are meant to protect women against being vulnerable to vice, not about providing them with agency to navigate their lives. In many countries that practice segregation between sexes, violence against women continue unabated. However, I do see and understand your point that the conditions of the public transport in Malaysia IS bad. I have heard of cases of molestations and rape occurring in these places. Opportunistic bastards will always be there, but having segregated places without improving the transport system to prevent such things from happening (such as the installation of cameras in the buses, emergency alarms, and more importantly, LIMITATION in the number of passengers you can have on the public vehicle at any one time). I have traveled on subways and trains through different cities in the past 3 years, sometimes late into the night, and believe me, I have seen scary characters in the same coach as me, but I don't think segregation is the key. More importantly is education on precautionary and safety measures. In fact, in the town near me, a pregnant teen was beaten by a group of female gangsters on the bus. But the bus has security camera so they were all caught on tape.

  23. Hi Chris and others,

    Firstly, I believe that having female coaches is merely skirting the problem. This action is predicated on a few presumptions: i) women are the only victims in public transportation. ii) women are perceived weak and cannot defend themselves. These are wrong and baseless presumptions because the role of KTM/Rapid is to ensure protection of all customers, not a preferential treatment for women only. If security was the issue, security personnel should be placed in coaches instead of segregation. So why leave men exposed to be mugged? They also assume that in women coaches only, crimes won't happen.

    Secondly, I believe that gender segregation in public transportation has a few harms.I think it accentuates the idea of gender roles. It entrenches the idea that women are weak, women are targets of crimes (sexual molestation etc) when in reality, these things happen to men as well. So the perception that the public has on gender roles (which is quite conservative here) is confirmed when authorities themselves conforms to how genders are supposed to act in society.

    Thirdly, I believe that this pushes us away from creating a post-gender, egalitarian society. Instead, it's more to a matriarchal society. Dulu patriarchal, sekarang matriarchal pulak. It just shows that women customers ought to be given preferential treatment than men. Better comfort for women customers. Where is the promised gender neutrality that we've been fighting for? It's like giving women 2 votes instead of one. We need to recalibrate policies to ensure that gender roles is no more and eradicated from society.


  24. Chris,

    "On a side note, is transwoman acceptable strongly in the society? Have you come across anyone giving them a weird stare in the coaches?"

    Being transgender is part being human. They are just as accepted, if not strongly, as the rest of us cis-gendered people.

    "And no, I am not referring to them as any political leaders though there may be. Assumption of leadership roles do necessarily mean being involved in politics? I beg to differ. You can be a leader in a company, you can be a partner in a firm, a Director, manager or CEO of the Company. Are they not categorised as a leader?"

    OK, sure they're all leadership roles – CEOs, guru besar, president, imam, mayor, general, priest, vice chancellor, head chef, etc. But I'm not convinced that the number of women as leaders are equal to men. I can come up with articles that state the dearth of women in many decision-making roles in Malaysia and abroad, and that includes women in the Forbes rich list, as head of states, women as head of police force and military, for example. It would be more convincing to see how you managed to come up with this "women are at par as the men" statement and support them with articles, statistics, research papers, and the such for the rest of us to read and agree with your article.

    To be frank with you, Chris, I read and study the Malaysian and international news on gender equality everyday without fail and it's very rarely good news. And I do this because I'm a researcher on gender issues not because I purposely want to find fault with someone like yourself, ok?

    So no one is the main perpetrator of sexual violence, harassment, and molestation in Malaysia you say? Both are equally bad? How do women in particular contribute to perpetrating these appalling crimes I might ask? By wearing sexy clothing perhaps? by ignoring catcalls? by inciting the anger of their male partners maybe?

    Again, I've yet to read the news and academic papers on women and men as equal perpetrators of such crimes. Unless of course many men do not report being raped, harassed, or molested by women. Please enlighten me, Chris.

    Do men really get sexually harassed by women on the streets the way women do? Do men fear getting raped by women when they're out on the streets alone at night?

    Have you ever been sexually harassed by a woman, Chris, or known a man who has? I'm not trying to belittle your experiences if you have, but the fact that many more women experience violence at the hands of men is a systemic problem.

    I don't believe that just because women are at par as men which according to you is being as successful in the public sphere as men, women are as capable of the same kind of violence and of the magnitude as men. The two premises just do not add up.

  25. Oh I see! We're talking about the way we dress now. Wow, that's brilliant! That just makes your argument much more sound, substantial and acceptable from every single sexist male standpoint. So my hemline dictates the harassment I deserved, eh? That's pretty much the point you're trying to make across, isn't it? I should be raped, harrassed and violated because of my skirt and the cut of my blouse. It justifies EVERYTHING.

    Crystal clear.

    Pump your fist high up in the air! Bask in your glorious male victory! You've made your point! Awesome! Bravo! Win!

    Rape myth, much?

    Not impressed.

  26. mymiszelle: i share the same belief. they are equal. Somehow ironically as it seems, our actions, whatever we do or plan will not favour this idea. Your statement which you urge men and women to respect each other's space is enlightening. My view, in respect to this article will be they both, can share the same carriage and having one special (besides the point that KTM & RapidKL are not doing enough!) carriage for women is undermining this idea. Unless you do mean that we should respect the idea of giving one carriage to women.

  27. Marc: The idea of implementing public transports are NOT to make anyone or any gender, to my opinion, to suffer. They are TO benefit all gender and all types of people, including the disable. If at all they have carefully study the plan and decided to add carriages BEFORE implementing the pink coach idea, it would be acceptable, for at least, it does not burden others.

    Clarissa: yes, thank you for taking time in sharing your views. closed biological assumptions? Do you mean they follow the interpretation of Corbett v Corbett? I shall await when you have more time to revisit your views.

    Alicia: Hi Alicia, going into domestic abuse seems to be away from the point of this article. My apologies for not being to adduce statistics as it is my own sheer experiences that i have encountered more women instead of men in the aforesaid positions.

    My point of emphasizing that is not to tie the relevance of introducing the ladies coach whatsoever but to impress upon anyone of us here that women have made significant impact in the society. They are on par as the men.

    Yes, I understand your comment on para 2. On a side note, is transwoman acceptable strongly in the society? Have you come across anyone giving them a weird stare in the coaches?

    In respect of this sentence – Quote: backed up by claims of women’s strength (strong enough to beat up men) – I am afraid that you may have misunderstood. Are you referring to my statement that they can commit battery? My meaning was not drawn to beating up anyone but the force they used in the train in order to either enter or get a sit in the train. And no, I am not referring to them as any political leaders though there may be. Assumption of leadership roles do necessarily mean being involved in politics? I beg to differ. You can be a leader in a company, you can be a partner in a firm, a Director, manager or CEO of the Company. Are they not categorised as a leader?

    Your question & My answer: My humble opinion is that no. No one is the main perpetrator but they, equally as men are contributors to this.

    My belief is if today women can be sexually harassed, tomorrow a man can be sexually harassed as well. If they want to curb this problem, perhaps (again in relation to adding coaches or busses) they do consider adding them before implementing and causes trouble to others?

    Kartina: yes, it does. Why do we place women in a more privilege position until they affect the comfort of other gender?

    Harley: Hey man. sexual harassment? By the way did you notice the way the unmasked lady dress?

  28. I hold the view of Complementarianism and believe that men and women are created equal in their essential dignity and human personhood, however they are different and complementary in function.
    Having said that, I urge men and women to respect each other's space.

  29. What about the men, huh? What about the men? Women are just as bad as men. They're much stronger than they look like. They commit battery on others more than men! What horrible creatures these women are, yet they still get the *privilege* of having their own coaches. Yeap, gender equality comes with a price – that women can sit comfortably in their coaches while the men have to squeeze like canned sardines in other coaches! What a terrible, terrible price.

  30. Hi Chris,

    I feel quite strongly about the female-only coaches as well, but let's not go into the whole "women are known to batter men more than the other way round" and stating that there are more female judges than men, because really, are all those statements true? Are you taking into account the number of women – wives, daughters, girlfriends, and domestic helpers – who are victims of domestic abuse? Do women make the majority of judges? including syariah ones? These statements (if they're even true) bear little relevance to why women-only coaches were introduced.

    Your argument against women-only coaches (btw, women/femininity denotes gender, female is biological sex. A transwoman is a woman/feminine but can still be biologically male) is based on the purported gender equality that is already prevalent in our societ, backed up by claims of women's strength (strong enough to beat up men) and the apparent equal number of women and men in leadership roles (again, is this true? are you talking about political leaders? in which case is so not true).

    How about asking yourself this: are women the main perpetrators of sexual violence, harassment and molestation in Malaysian society?

    I'm not a fan of women-only coaches. If anything, it sweeps the real problem under the carpet – pervy, disrespectful, misogynist men. It places the responsibility of women to protect themselves and seek refuge in gender-segregated spaces. The refuge is effective for a moment on the komuter, but what about once outside? on the streets? in the home?

  31. I would like to write more since I am very much interested in such issues but since I am suppose to work now, I'll post an unsatisfactory comment: someone mentions paternalism and I think it is time to revisit the entire Women and Girls Protection Act (106) and question what it means by protecting (paternal protection does not equate ensuring that human traffickers do not prey in the vulnerability of the female sex). That act itself does not seemed to have been revised much, and seems to victimize rather than provide agency to the female sex. I did not use gender here since the definition of female in Malaysian law is based on closed biological assumptions, so I have no idea how one finesse that in relation to intersex individuals. The area of masculinity and violence also has to be tackled. Unless we understand the root of the issues, half-baked policies based on retro and unsubstantiated assumptions on gender will continue to be made

  32. yes chris, i agree with u. women's coach is just an adhoc solution which doesnt tackle the root of the problem; inappropriate behaviour of ppl whether sexual harassment, theft or whatever. Of course while recognising that changing people attitude n behaviour is a long term solution with protection for women needed in the interim, there has to be a balance of everyone's needs. KTM is a public body(should not discriminate) and men are also dependant on it to travel safely and comfortably. without increasing the number of coaches, the men are going to suffer. Women's coach advocates should think about that. Furthermore, KTM's other reason for the coach is ridiculous. According to their "statistics", 60 percent of KTM users are women. Even if this is true, this ratio does not translate to the number of people taking the train at all times of the day. very often, the women's carriage has been seen to be empty, while the men's coach being packed. Also, not all women feel threatened whenever they board the train and are quite comfortable sitting in the regular coaches. Many also board because they are rushing or that these are nearer to the station exits where they disembark.

  33. Aston: thank you. I got very practical on this as a result of my daily experiences.

    Sinjoro Eng: Thank you for reading. I believe women are getting stronger but such implementations and over cautious attitude do, in my opinion makes women weaker in public's perception.

    Boy: I believe you have accidentally got into the women's coach as well?

    June: I will have greater support towards this idea and to your views if at all more careful planning and other considerations being taken into account. Sadly, no. That is not the case. I have friends who experienced theft and molestation in the train. Believe me, guys do get molested as well. I did. But that should not be the excuse why they just implement and neglected others. It is therefore not equal anymore.

  34. As a woman who travels via public transport, and yes, I've used the KTM – I think women's only carriage is a great idea, and I certainly don't find it insulting to my gender in any way. I've been molested a couple of times in public transportation when I was much younger and naive, and it's very traumatizing.

    I would want a space for young women in particular, where they can travel and feel safe. If it makes some men offended and grumpy, I don't care.

  35. As a boy (so sorry, I'm already 19 but i still consider myself a boy), I feel so safe in the women's coaches….

  36. I did not know whether this is a beginning of a series of religion awakening or it is treating the Malaysian women as a weaker gender who cannot defend themselves.

    Sex maniacs are everywhere and we also must find out why there are the maniacs.

    I salute Chris for the piece of work

  37. Chris,

    I see your point on the practical aspects of things.

    But really what is troublesome with this idea is the sheer paternalism that pervades it. This idea that men know what's best for women.

    If women are being molested, the solution to the problem is to increase the presence of security and to raise awareness among men on the do's and don'ts when dealing with women (as sorry and pathetic as that may sound).

    There is no attempt to solve the problem of harrassment only a miserable attempt at trying to isolate women. It in effect also paints women as being weak and too incapable of taking care of themselves and all men as a bunch of uncontrollable sadistic perverts.

    Personally, I take offence to this gender segregation on buses and trains.

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