Seoul Removes Women-Only Parking Spaces, Sparking Controversy

Seoul Removes Women-Only Parking Spaces, Sparking Controversy

Seoul is removing women-only parking spaces after 14 years of their introduction. These parking spots were originally implemented to protect women after a series of violent crimes in basement car parks in 2009. However, city officials have stated that such spaces are no longer necessary and will be converted into family parking spots.

The women-only spots were installed in car parks with more than 30 spaces and accounted for 10% of the public parking spaces, or just under 2,000 spaces in total. They were generally located near building entrances so women would not have to walk through basements in the dark. The spaces tended to be larger than regular parking spaces, and some critics believed that this reinforced the stereotype that women have more difficulty parking than men. The larger size was actually intended to assist women in getting their children in and out of the car, as they tend to take on most of the childcare in South Korea.

While the new family spots will be available only to pregnant women and those travelling with children, some women who regularly use the women-only parking spaces feel that they will now be less safe without them. Government figures from 2021 have shown that over two-thirds of the violent crimes committed in the city’s car parks were sexual crimes, such as rape, sexual assault, and harassment.

Critics believe that the removal of the women-only parking spaces is just the latest example of anti-feminist policies in South Korea. The current government has removed the term “gender equality” from its school ethics curriculum and is attempting to close its gender equality ministry. Men in South Korea increasingly argue that policies designed to advantage women are discriminatory.

Some critics believe that this trend towards anti-feminism is concerning and may have wider implications for gender equality in South Korea. Oh Kyung-jin from the Korean Women’s Association is disappointed by the removal of the parking spaces but is more worried about the trend towards regressive policies. On the other hand, male pilot Cho Young-jae supports the removal of the women-only spaces and argues that walking a few extra meters to a regular parking space does not make a person less safe.

The controversy around women-only parking spaces is not unique to South Korea. The practice was first introduced in Germany in the 1990s and has been controversial in various places worldwide.

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