Last Monday, May 15, a petition emerged on the website of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine, urging Ukrzaliznytsia (Ukrainian Railways) to allocate at least one ‘female’ carriage for women on all train journeys lasting more than 6 hours.

The petition’s author, Olga Ozhogina, explained that on lengthy routes, passengers often experience discomfort when sharing close quarters with individuals of the opposite sex, particularly during sleeping hours.

Ozhogina highlighted isolated incidents of unacceptable and intrusive behavior, including cases of intentional touching and even instances of rape within compartment cars.

As of the morning of May 25, the petition has amassed almost 24,350 signatures. To prompt consideration by the Cabinet of Ministers, approximately 650 more signatures are required. The petition collection period will continue for another 85 days.

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Meanwhile, Ukrzaliznytsia announced on Tuesday, May 23, that it is considering the possibility of introducing separate compartments for women and plans to test them.

They said women’s compartments could be introduced to enhance safety and comfort on passenger trains.

The pilot project for the launch will be tested for several months, and then, together with the company and specialists, a decision will be made on scaling, said the head of the Board of Ukrzaliznytsia Yevgen Lyashchenko. According to him, it will depend on demand and feedback.

How did it start?

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The debate surrounding the necessity of segregated train carriages in Ukraine has resurfaced following an incident involving a young girl who declined to share a compartment with three men.

A Twitter user going by the name “Sinner” wrote that upon discovering that her compartment’s neighbors were three men, she promptly opted to purchase a ticket for a different compartment.

“F*ck, such a pleasure. I just got in the compartment, and it's f*cked up. Three men, bitch. Three f*cking  men. Dear Ukrzaliznytsya, please make only women's compartments because I will probably buy a ticket to another compartment right now.”

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“Yes, if I had stayed in that compartment, maybe nothing would have happened. Or maybe you would have heard the news that three men raped a 24-year-old girl. No one knows how the situation would have turned out.”

The statement triggered a heated discussion across social media platforms, reaching a level of popularity comparable to the topic of the “liberation of Belgorod.” People have become divided into two opposing factions.

The debate continues with the same old arguments, following the usual patterns of controversial topics, and there is little space for logical discussions.

Some individuals support introducing segregated carriages exclusively for women, viewing it as a sensible and progressive solution to ensure women's safety and comfort during travel. Their primary argument revolves around the desire to shield women from sexual harassment and violence.

“Women’s compartments or wagons are a good idea. Women who want to travel only with women and children do not discriminate against me and I am glad that they will have such an opportunity. I don’t understand what could be wrong here.”

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“Ok, seriously, I support women’s carriages, the main thing is that women feel safe and comfortable, and the tension between us decreases.” 

Ukrainian artist Olena Myshanska drew a comparison with the Dubai metro, where the concept of separate women’s carriages has been in place for an extended period of time.

“Cars of the [Dubai metro] this is a comfort zone that is easy to enter and do not want to go out. If a man goes there – a fine of about $40,” Myshanska wrote on Facebook.

“And in the UAE, there are women’s days in parks and on beaches (this is when men are not allowed to come there, the rest are common). [There are] women’s gyms and saunas, massage studios, and sometimes waiting rooms in medical centers. I liked this experience, so I support the idea.”

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“Separate women’s carriages are neither sharia, nor discrimination, and nothing else like separate toilets, or separate dormitories, or separate sections in stores, separate taxis, separate sections by interests (usually sports).”

At the same time, many commentators criticized the proposal, seeing in it the idea of segregation and discrimination. Many refer to the fact that female carriages are a recognition that the authorities cannot ensure women's safety in any other way.

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“Women’s compartments are crazy, put up with it. We must solve the problems of insecurity not by dividing into ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ groups. And make sure that the law works and that a person can either protect himself or be protected. A woman can also rape, beat and deceive a woman.”

“I can help you with better logic. Make normal locks in the compartment such that only the passenger and the conductor can open them, equip them with an alarm button, and make it mandatory to have two policemen per train. Women’s wagons do not solve the problem,” Oksana Tukalevska wrote on Facebook.

“First, you can introduce separate compartments. Then – you need to think about whether it makes sense to introduce long skirts. Or is it better to think about separate studying [at university] first?” she wrote.

“Everything is so delicious that it’s even difficult to choose... Hey, maybe we should look for other solutions.”

Is it really unsafe to travel on Ukrainian railways?

Previously, every Ukrzaliznytsia train had patrolmen responsible for maintaining law and order, and crimes were investigated by the railway police.

However, in 2015, this division was dissolved. The Ministry of Internal Affairs justified this decision by stating that the investigators had little work.

Five years later, in July 2020, the media was filled with the story of Anastasia Lugova. She was traveling on the Mariupol-Kyiv train with her young son when, during the night, an unidentified man, who didn’t even have a ticket, suddenly entered her compartment, viciously assaulted her, and attempted to rape her.

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Subsequently, the assailant passed away in the hospital before receiving a verdict. However, Ukrzaliznytsia was ordered by the court to pay Lugova Hr.100,000 as moral compensation.

The most alarming aspect of this incident was the absence of anyone to come to the woman's aid on the train, as the transport police in Ukraine had been abolished. In essence, traveling on Ukrainian trains had become a matter of chance when it came to personal safety.

Following this incident, it was decided to introduce paramilitary guards on trains.

Crimes and offenses

Incidents of misconduct on Ukrzaliznytsia trains are, unfortunately, quite common. For instance, in April 2019, a group of 250 football fans vandalized three cars of the Lviv-Zaporizhzhia train.

They broke windows, threw mattresses, pillows, bedding sets, and fire extinguishers out of the train. Sadly, there was no one present to intervene and stop the hooligans.

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A similar situation occurred in March 2020 on the Lviv-Sokal train, where vandals caused significant damage by destroying seats and breaking windows and doors in the train cabin.

Furthermore, in January 2020, a group of passengers assaulted a conductor on the Kyiv-Ivano-Frankivsk train when asked not to smoke in the vestibule of the carriage.

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Comments ( 1)

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JMiguel
This comment contains spoilers. Click here if you want to read.

Using UAE as an example is cringe.

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