Ladies First: Czech Railways Rolls Out Female-Priority Compartments

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Sorry, fellas, these seats are taken. In hopes of improving services for women, Czech Railways recently introduced “Ladies Compartments,” which will give priority seating to women and provide improved comfort.

According to the New York Times, the new compartments installed on about 30 trains were instantly met with some disapproval. Opponents argued the cabins discriminate against men, but rail spokesman Petr Stahlavsky told the Times the changes are based on “Western European and Christian traditions.” He added, “This is not any discrimination but social and cultural tradition.”

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As it turns out, these types of cabins are not so uncommon. The company said it was modeling its new compartments after the Austrian system, but women-only cabins have already taken off in at least a half-dozen countries including Japan, Egypt, Iran, Brazil and India.

While female cabins have been around in Japan since the 1920s, its capital city had resisted adopting them until a few years ago. After two-thirds of women in their 20s and 30s reported problems with lewd conduct and groping in a survey, Tokyo also got on board with women-only cars in 2005, ABC reports.

Some cities in India followed the same route in 2009. According to the BCC, as the number of working women swelled over the past decade, safety became an issue aboard India’s trains. Acid attacks, thefts and “Eve teasing,” or public molestation, on trains caused Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata to introduce women-only cabins.

Though men aren’t banned from sitting in the new the six-seater Ladies Compartments on Prague’s trains, women will have priority seating and can ask men to leave if they don’t want to share the space with a Y chromosome. If successful, Czech Railways hopes to continue with plans to roll out 80 more similar compartments by the summer.

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