Groping and verbal harassment is an exasperating reality for women using public transportation in this sprawling capital, where 22 million passengers cram onto subways and buses each day. Some men treat women so badly that the subway system has long had ladies-only cars during rush hour, with police segregating the sexes on the platforms.
But that hasn’t helped women forced to rely on packed buses, by far the city’s most-used form of public transportation—until this week.
Acting on complaints from women’s groups, the city rolled out “ladies only” buses, complete with pink signs in the windshields to wave off the men.
As word spreads about the buses, the women seem delighted, while some men forced to wait a few minutes longer have shown their anger. Still others have stumbled on board despite the signs, much to their embarrassment.
Mexico City’s female-only buses run along three busy routes throughout the day for now, but the city plans to add them to 15 other routes by April, said Ariadna Montiel, who directs the public bus system.
“Women were asking for this service because of the sexual harassment, especially groping and leering,” Montiel said.
And while some men have complained that they have to wait longer for a bus, she said the women are thrilled: “The women are really happy and we have been getting a lot of e-mail and letters from them.”
Women-only buses or subways have been rolling for years in India, Brazil, Japan and other countries. Mexico City finally took the action as part of a growing responsiveness to complaints about discrimination against women, Montiel said.