The Hanoi municipal administration has ordered transportation corporation to create exclusive public buses for women to protect them from sexual harassment, a move that has raised experts' eyebrows over its feasibility.
Nguyen Hoang Trung, deputy director of the state-owned Hanoi Transport Corporation, said they have been told to explore gender-segregation on certain problematic routes after recent research suggested the city's female commuters are vulnerable to sexual harassment.
ActionAid Vietnam, an advocacy group, and the Hanoi-based Research Center for Gender, Family and Environment in Development released the results of a survey of 2,046 people in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City early this month that gave voice to those concerns.
According to the survey, 57 percent of women (aged 16 and up) said sexual harassment is most likely to occur on the street, while 31 percent of female students said they have been harassed on public buses.
The survey also identified parks, bus stations and public bus terminals as risky places.
The National Traffic Safety Committee has acted on the survey and ordered the Hanoi city hall to identify locations and public bus routes where women are usually disturbed.
Trung said a bus just for women is “very new and will lead to many complicated issues in management.”
Dinh Thi Thanh Binh, director of the Institute of Transport Planning and Management at the University of Transportation, said she fears the plan will prove “hard to carry out.”
Binh said more men than women use Hanoi's public bus system.
Female commuters are sexually harassed on numerous routes and the city can't hope to resolve the problem by segregating the whole system along gender lines, she said.
“Hanoi should explore other solutions, such as cooperating with the police, raising passenger awareness and encouraging victims to file reports,” she said.
Of the 43,012 phone calls made to the Hanoi Transportation Corporation hotline between April and November, only five complained about sexual harassment on buses, the group said.