Last week, Viet Nam News asked its readers for whether they think Ha Noi's plan to operate women-only buses on certain routes to counter sexual harassment and theft was feasible or practical.
Here are some replies we received.
John Haywood, British, Ha Noi
Considering the costs involved in providing extra buses, fuel and maintenance, it might be worth simply putting posters up inside the buses stating that harassment will not be tolerated and the bus staff (the driver and the ticket man) have the right to kick a passenger off the bus or fine them on the spot. In England, most of our buses have CCTV but I'm sure the threat alone of having your photo stuck on a bus with a caption like "Harassed a 16 year old on our bus" would deter most sensible people.
Rie Watanabe, Japanese, Ha Noi
I don't see the women-only buses project as practical. Not mentioning harassment, we need to have a look at the imbalance of passengers on buses for women and buses for everyone.
Let's imagine. If I go out with my husband, how could we go on the women-only bus?
Also, for foreigners, what would they think about safety in Viet Nam if they see these buses?
I don't think designated areas for women on buses would be practical, either. It is easy to see that designated seats for the old, those with disabilities, pregnant women are being used by normal people most of the time. How can we expect that such areas would really only serve women?
Sexual harassment can happen everywhere, not only buses. As a result, to tackle the issue, transport enterprises could try preventive measures such as CCTV or emergency buttons for sexual harassment. These will help to prevent not only harassment but also other problems such as pickpocket and robbery.
Also, there is the advice that young bus passengers who are vulnerable to sexual harassment should wear decent clothes. Revealing clothes will solicit harassers.
Le Xuan Hong, Vietnamese
I do not think women-only buses would help to reduce sexual harassment in public. The fact is that sexual harassments happen everywhere. Only when people are well-educated is sexual harassment reduced. Moreover, instituting women-only buses would mean we accept that people are sexually harrassed on buses but that it cannot be prevented and we aren't doing anything to prevent it.
Steven Fuyer, Ben Tre Province
Most men would be opposed to this. But imagine when unwanted sexual remarks or harassment happens to your wife, daughter, mother or sister on a bus. Wouldn't you feel angry and powerless, just because this thing happened to your family? The way men treat girls and women in Asia is not really nice. However, following the American example would lead us to the other extreme. In the US, under anti-harassment laws, men are afraid even to ask a woman out, fearing it would lead to further action from that woman, since they are authorised to accuse any man of harassment. I support the idea that girls and women should have more respect from men. They just need education about the issue. We don't need the stupidity of American way, which has only one goal: Divide the sexes.
Nguyen Hong Nhung, Vietnamese
As a regular bus passenger, I was excited at first about the city's intention to run women-only buses. However, I soon felt confused about the plan, and I thought that it would be quite inconvenient. Let's think about the number of additional buses to be opened to serve women only, compared with the current shortage of buses for all.
The traffic in Ha Noi is bad, especially in peak hours and on main routes. Additional buses will make the traffic worse. I do not want to wait for hours for a safe bus to go.
Edgard Dos, HCM City
I have been around the world and have not seen this before. If the cash is available, go ahead, but maybe include elders and kids, as well, on those buses. Sexual harassment… it is an educational issue which requires educational actions?
Hoai Yen, Vietnamese
This is a good idea. Women-only buses will have my vote.
John Boag, American, HCM City
It is indeed unfortunate that one should be forced to consider all-female buses as a result of male harassment of female passengers. Although we may place the blame on a cultural climate without a moral compass, the first line of defense is the father of the male intruder.
In America we call sex education by parents explaining ‘the birds and the bees.' Mother to daughter and father to son. My father explained to me what a gentleman is and how to respect women. He also led by example, and never raised his voice to my mother and held her in high esteem.
However, if a quick, innocent glance and smile at a member of the opposite sex should be criminalized, you may as well take me out and shoot me, for I must plead guilty.
Nguyen Thi Oanh, Vietnamese
The special buses for women will provide them a safe and comfortable journey. I strongly agree with the plan.
Andrew Burden, Canadian, Ha Noi
The driver will also be female? In an accident, the ambulance driver and doctors will be female? They can wave to the 50 female traffic police brought out at rush hour to stand, literally, on a pedestal.
I trust journalists will also be the aforementioned gender? Will you allow foreign tourists on board, or will Mr. Smith have to say goodbye to Mrs. Smith? Is grandpa still a threat? Sorry, you have to wait or walk.
India and Pakistan have extremely serious problems with each other and within each country. Women are beaten, (gang) raped, burned and have acid thrown at them. In Pakistan they must wear veils and suffer the indignity of polygamy.
In Toronto, Canada, following an ad campaign started in New York City, men are expected to close their legs to make room. It seems they're ‘manspreading' or sitting too wide. Feminism has become ubiquitous (everywhere), constant (24/7) and excessive (in every man's face).
Sheltered, hysterical schoolgirls (news article did not mention grade or high school) are afraid! Where are the adult females? What is the ticket man doing? What are you teaching nowadays in school?
If you separate the sexes on the bus, these future princesses and nuns will learn to always play the weak and innocent card and always cry victim. They will be unprepared for university and work environments.
Teach them to have a sharp tongue and VoViNam. Problem solved. — VNS