Quick access to top menu Direct access to main contents Quick access to page bottom

No Man Allowed: India’s Strict Policy on Women-Only Subway Cars

① Women-Only Subway Cars in India


In New Delhi, India, there are subway cars exclusively for women. The city of New Delhi introduced these women-only cars in response to growing complaints about frequent sexual harassment against women in public transportation.

One car in each subway, strategically positioned at the front and rear of each subway train, is distinctly marked as “Women Only,” with strict regulations prohibiting men from boarding. Violators face severe penalties.

In the past, when a man boarded a women-only car, outraged women demanded punishment from the subway police. The police ordered the men to do push-ups on the spot. They also imposed a fine of about USD 5.

Source: X

The police officer who punished the men with push-ups explained, “We are punishing men who board women-only cars to show that women can safely ride the subway.”

On social media, a video of police officers slapping men as they disembark from the women-only car is causing a stir. The police officers started beating the male passengers indiscriminately as soon as they disembarked. They even forcibly dragged out men standing inside the car and continued to slap them.


When a man holding a child got off with his wife, the police protected them and even smiled. Other men, however, had no choice but to endure the police’s violence.

② Free Public Transportation for Women

In India, New Delhi authorities have implemented free access to public transportation for women in 2019, allowing free rides to the city’s main modes of transportation, including subways and public buses.
The authorities stated that “this will create an environment where more women can use public transportation, and it will be an opportunity to increase women’s social participation in marginalized groups.”

The policy was introduced based on the judgment that the existing transportation policy’s preferential treatment for women had limitations.

Public buses in India provided the front seats as designated seats for women, and the subway also introduced women-only cars to ensure that women could board safely.

Furthermore, the rate of public transportation use among women in socially vulnerable groups in India was relatively low.

Women accounted for only about 20% of the 4.2 million daily users of public buses and about 25% of the 3 million daily subway users. The authorities judged that the cost of public transportation was causing women to be excluded from educational opportunities.

The public transportation system in India, traditionally dominated by men, has been identified as a significant deterrent to female users.

This is compounded by the persistent issue of sexual crimes occurring within these systems, leading to a desire to increase female ridership as a preventive measure.

The authorities began issuing “pink tickets” for free rides exclusively to women boarding buses in Delhi starting in October 2019.

All public transportation buses can be used for free. When a woman boards a bus, the driver hands her a pink ticket.

This initiative marks a global first in providing free public transportation specifically for women.

With the introduction of this policy, there has been a substantial increase in the deployment of security personnel on buses, rising from 3,400 to 13,000.

③ Backlash from Men

The Economic Times

Public opinion has been divided in India since free public transportation benefits for women have been introduced. Opinions vary, with some viewing it as reverse discrimination against male users, while others see it as a necessary step to support economically disadvantaged women in accessing work opportunities.

In particular, there was a lot of criticism that the idea of distinguishing between men and women reinforces stereotypes of female vulnerability.

On social media, women responded with comments like, “We asked for a safe city. Who wanted free tickets?”, “We also work and earn money equally. Why ignore us?” and “This policy implants the perception that women are inherently weak.”

Foreign media outlets also extensively reported India’s free public transportation benefits for women.
BBC analyzed, “Sexual violence in India is a tool to show off masculinity” and “The cultural tradition and perception that men are superior to women is the real problem.”

Meanwhile, the authorities said, “We will first implement the free ride system for women and consider expanding it to seniors and students depending on the financial situation.”

mememedia's Profile image




Share it on