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Tuesday, 2 July, 2002, 17:09 GMT 18:09 UK
Female only trains for SA
Demonstrators against violence on women
South Africans are mobilising against sexual violence
A South Africa minister has called for the introduction of female-only train carriages in an attempt to crack down on violence against young women.

The South African education minister urged his opposite number at the transport ministry to consider the move, following a meeting on violence against children, and schoolgirls in particular.

The BBC's Carolyn Dempster in Johannesburg says statistics show a female born in South Africa is more likely to be raped than to learn how to read.

The call came as Japan introduced carriages for the sole use of female passengers.

Abuse

Education Minister Kader Asmal said that the introduction of female-only carriages would help fight violence against girls on trains, and reduce the overall levels of gender-based violence, the Mail and Guardian newspaper reported on Tuesday.

He made his call to Transport Minister Dullah Omar after meeting representatives of the school governing body associations, teacher unions and the council of educators.

Mr Omar has not yet said whether he would request train operators to introduce the all-women train carriages.

Mr Asmal's call came as a third Japanese rail company started running women-only cars on Monday to protect female commuters from physical harassment in packed trains.

In Egypt, women-only carriages were introduced several years ago on Cairo's underground trains after women complained that men exploited the physical proximity forced on users of overcrowded trains.

Rape

Our correspondent says sexual violence pervades society in South Africa, with one of the highest reported rates of rape in the world, and an alarmingly high incidence of domestic violence and child abuse.

One in four girls faces the prospect of being raped before the age of 16 according to the child support group, Childline.

Our correspondent says that the government, and South African society, are responding to the scourge.

The justice system has made the fight against sexual offences one of its top priorities, with a review of the law and stiffer sentences for offenders.


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