SEGREGATION OF THE SEXES?

December 22, 2014

Annabelle Pendlebury

In 2010, some provinces in China introduced women-only car parking zones, nearer to the entries and exits of shopping centres, where men were banned from parking. The same occurred in South Korea, while Germany adopted the idea in 2012. Segregating people according to their sex shouldn’t be happening today, right? So what are the true motives behind such a scheme?

In China, the car parking spaces are larger than regular ones and include special bumpers to avoid collisions, suggesting the parks were designed to give women more assistance when maneuvering their cars into parks. Mayor Gallus Strobel of Triberg, a small town in Germany that implemented this idea, stated the most “difficult” spots were reserved for men. Seems like a very considerate and sweet idea until, oh wait; you remember this is the 21st century. I think (correct me if I’m wrong) that science has now proven that women do have brains and can in fact also drive cars. If this was the reason for their introduction, it only promotes backwards ideas about women being less skilled and as such, should not be allowed in today’s society.

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Instead, another reason these women-only car parks could be popping up might be to promote womens’ safety. A lot of women may find that leaving a shopping center in the evening, when it is dimly lit and often isolated, can be quite daunting with the fear of being attacked in mind. When I worked at Westfield Doncaster last year, I adored my job but dreaded the night shift that finished around 12am or later. The scary, dark and deserted walk to my car in the middle of the night was a legitimate issue to be considered when deciding if the job was right for me. Perhaps this would not be such a concern if I were male, seeing as in 2013, according to the ABS, 4 out of 5 victims of sexual assault were females. Certainly, males might also be attacked under these circumstances but the reality is that chances of sexual assault are lower for them and so for males, this is a lesser concern.

If this is the intended aim, would a similar scheme work here in Australia? Perhaps parking spaces for women located next to the entry and exits of shopping centres would help minimise risk by shortening the time women spend out in the open, alone at night. However, to me, this just looks like another plan aimed at reminding females to be careful, while failing to educate males about preventing violence and sexual assault towards women. Females know they are in danger when they set foot outside at night. Just as I couldn’t help unconsciously feeling fearful after finishing work, most women think about it almost involuntarily. Do males? No. Money spent on a female-only parking scheme would be money better spent on changing men’s attitudes from apathy to action.

Whether this plan was intended to compensate for women’s lack of driving abilities or to reduce their risk of attack, it seems to have been poorly thought out. It serves as an odd reminder of days gone by, when segregation according to race and gender was once the social norm.

– Annabelle Pendlebury

 

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