Leading candidate for Britain’s Labour Party leadership Jeremy Corbyn is being accused of advocating “apartheid” after suggesting Tuesday that women-only cars on trains could stem sexual assault and harassment.
Corbyn, a radical socialist and member of parliament, told The Independent his aim was to “to make public transport safer for everyone from the train platform to the bus stop to the mode of transport itself.”
But his suggestion has been greeted with a furious backlash from feminists and anti-discrimination advocates alike. Britain’s Women’s Minister Nicky Morgan said women-only carriages would be akin to “segregation.”
All three of his rivals for the Labour leadership have come out against the idea. Liz Kendall, who lags far behind Corbyn in the opinion polls, said women-only carriages would only be “an admission of defeat, rather than a sustainable solution.” (RELATED: Corbyn On Track To Win Labour Leadership)
Fellow leadership contender Yvette Cooper argued the staff needed to enforce segregation would be spent keeping all passengers safe and called instead for a violence against women and girls law and compulsory sex and relationship education in schools to tackle the problem.
According to British Transport Police, sex offences at trains and stations have rose by 25 percent in the year 2014-15 with 1,399 offences recorded in England, Wales and Scotland.
Corbyn’s caveat that he would “consult with women” on whether the carriages would be welcome failed to stem the backlash. Prominent feminist activist and campaigner Julie Bindel slammed the idea on Sky News.
Corbyn did receive some lukewarm support from fellow socialist and MP Diane Abbot, who praised him fro bringing attention to sexual harassment but did not conclusively back the policy. If Britain did introduce women-only train carriages it would join Japan, Mexico and Brazil.