A German train operator has decided to introduce a women-only carriage in the aftermath of mass sexual assaults blamed on migrants from the Middle East and North Africa.
Mitteldeutsche Regiobahn will reserve a carriage for female passengers on the Leipzig to Chemnitz line, positioned beside the train conductor for maximum safety. Boys aged 10 and under will also be admitted.
Germany accepted more than one million migrants last year and their arrival has coincided with a series of sexual assaults. In Cologne, a crowd of about 1,000 men described as being “of North African or Arab appearance” massed around the railway station on New Year’s Eve, with roving gangs allegedly attacking at least 200 women.
In Leipzig in eastern Germany — where the women-only service will begin — the city’s mayor warned in January of “terror on the streets” after far-Right thugs protested against migrants by looting shops and burning cars.
Last week saw the first sexual assault charge arising from the Cologne violence. A 26-year-old Algerian was accused of groping a woman while he and about 10 other men surrounded her.
However, a spokesman for Mitteldeutsche Regiobahn said the decision to reserve a carriage for women was prompted solely by “passengers who want more privacy.” The company added: “It has nothing to do with sexual harassment.” The introduction of the carriages has sparked debate on German social media, with women giving examples on Twitter of when they have felt harassed on trains.