Former equalities minister Lynne Featherstone has hit out at proposals from Labour leadership frontrunner Jeremy Corbyn for ‘women only’ train carriages.
Mr Corbyn suggested the approach this week in a bid to stop sexual harassment and assaults on transport, saying it is “unacceptable” for women to be forced to change their behaviour to avoid harassment and that more should be done to protect them.
He said: “My intention would be to make public transport safer for everyone from the train platform, to the bus stop to on the mode of transport itself.
“However, I would consult with women and open it up to hear their views on whether women-only carriages would be welcome – and also if piloting this at times and modes of transport where harassment is reported most frequently would be of interest.”
Former Lib Dem MP Lynne Featherstone – who was responsible for introducing same-sex marriage, but lost her seat in May’s election – spoke out against the changes.
She said: “Corbyn’s thinking takes us back to the dark ages. His motivation may be noble – but corralling women in a special carriage is not the answer.
“It’s not the women who should have to change their behaviour – it’s the men who harass them.
“We have cameras virtually everywhere – if the crime rate has escalated on public transport – then catch the perpetrators!”
The idea has also provoked a mixed reaction on social media, with some users pointing out that there is no mention of genderfluid or intersex travellers in the proposal.
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Many feared Mr Corbyn’s ideas would damage equality in the UK, where an increasing number of public services are issuing unisex options to customers.
It was recently announced that Ms Featherstone would retain her role as a Lib Dem ‘frontbench’ spokesperson – despite holding no current political office.
The ex-MP now serves as spokesperson for Energy and Climate Change. As the party has just 8 sitting MPs, the majority of its spokespeople were recruited from outside the House of Commons, with peers, local councillors and Mayors filling some of the roles.
Yesterday, Mr Corbyn’s Labour party rival Yvette Cooper claimed that he has “legitimised” anti-Semitic and homophobic extremists by sharing a platform with them.
Ms Cooper – who is trailing Mr Corbyn in the race to be the next leader of the Labour Party – hit out at his alleged links to homophobic activists, with whom Mr Corbyn has shared the stage with at some events.
She said: “There are some people who have quite extreme views. Homophobic, pushing homophobic abuse and pushing extremist abuse who I don’t think you should give legitimacy to by inviting to public meetings.”
However, Mr Corbyn – who has a long history of supporting LGBT rights – hit back, saying: “I have met people in the context of discussions about the Middle East with whom I profoundly disagree. I have met representatives of the Iranian government with whom I profoundly disagree with on the human rights issues.”
“My point is, if you’re to bring about a long-term peace process in the Middle East, you have to recognise that… you’ve got to talk to people you don’t like, don’t agree with, don’t particularly want to be in power, but you have to recognise they have a degree of support, and move on there.
“What’s the alternative, continuing the war?”