separation of people according to their sex
Travel topics > Concerns > Sex segregation

Sex segregation refers to the physical and spatial separation of people by sex in public or private places. Sex segregation is a global phenomenon; sex segregation or integration that is considered harmless or normal in one country can be considered radical or illegal in others.

Understand edit

Women-only car in Delhi metro


The Amazons were an all-female warrior caste portrayed in ancient Greek legends. Masters of horse(wo)manship and archery, they regularly undertook military expeditions anywhere from Scythia (modern Ukraine) to Egypt, but most authors pinpoint the present-day Turkish Black Sea coast as the area where they founded their independent kingdom (or rather queendom). They kept their social interaction with males to a bare minimum: once a year they met with the men of a nearby (mixed-sex) tribe for procreation, only to ensure the viability of their society. After the offspring were given birth, they retained the female babies to be grown up as Amazons, and disowned the males who would live among their fathers' tribe for the rest of their lives, if not immediately killed after delivery.

Their kingdom's capital, Themiscyra, is identified with the modern town of Terme, where an iconic statue depicting an Amazon welcomes travellers on the approaching highway. The provincial capital, Samsun, has a park dedicated to them, with associated recreations and contemporary artwork. Perhaps their legacy is best traced in the modern female inhabitants of the area, who have a reputation for being strong, independent women — the Turkish phrase Karadeniz kadını, "the Black Sea woman", specifically refers to this attribute.

In most countries there are generally understood rules on the interaction between men and women: how are you allowed to touch or look at a stranger of the opposite sex, are you allowed to use the same facilities? These sometimes unspoken but well-known rules can differ significantly from place to place, and signals can be misinterpreted.

Rules for men and women are partly followed also by boys and girls. The relevant age limits vary by culture and context. Babies and toddlers are seldom considered, while adolescents usually are treated like adults.

In countries with little segregation, there are also social rules on what's appropriate. A woman could be totally fine with hugging a man she was introduced to the same day – or dancing cheek to cheek with an until-the-dance stranger – while still very much offended by the same man touching her in any but the accepted ways. Some women in such countries may even be uneasy with a male stranger sitting next to them in the bus, or sharing an elevator with no other people nearby. Be attentive to their signals, so as not to be intrusive.

Most of the world's countries have male- and female-only prisons, bathrooms, changing rooms, saunas and toilets. A few countries mandate segregation nearly everywhere; women and men in these countries are not supposed to mingle except in specific contexts, and groups of men (or a single man) never with unmarried women without a male caretaker. In less restrictive countries, there may be segregation by sex in contexts such as shrines, schools, dormitories and gyms. Some religions reserve sections of houses of worship specifically for men or women or bar the entry of women who are menstruating.

Dress code may vary according to whether a place is sex-segregated. In countries where women's clothing is strictly regulated in public, they may still use western or otherwise relaxed clothing when at home with no non-mahram men around or e.g. in women-only parks.

In several countries in Latin America and Asia there are women only cars on public transit (usually also open to children up to a certain age) to combat sexual assault and harassment. In other countries, such as in much of Europe, such segregation could be seen as discrimination.

In many Western countries, despite little segregation overall, there are some single-sex societies and clubs. Some are controversial, as in keeping women out of contexts with important discussions and networking, other ones completely uncontroversial. Women-only establishments are generally more socially acceptable than men-only establishments. An association being males only or women only does not mean you won't meet the opposite sex there: some have far-reaching cooperation with their opposite-sex counterparts, some invite family of the members to some occasions, a male-only dinner may be served by female staff or the other way round and a single-sex children's club may have some leaders of the opposite sex. Likewise, boys' schools often have female teachers and vice versa.

In the 21st century, much controversy has erupted over whether sex-segregated spaces are to be understood based on biological (whatever that is thought to mean) or social gender, but in practice, in the vast majority of cases, the segregation is based on outward appearances. In some jurisdictions you have the right to use facilities based on your gender identity or legal sex, but using those according to your appearance may still offer a smoother experience.

British-born Muslim author Ed Husain argues that rather than keeping sexual desires under check, sex segregation creates "pent-up sexual frustration which expressed itself in the unhealthiest ways," and leads young people to "see the opposite sex only as sex objects." While working in Saudi Arabia for seven months as an English teacher, the Arabic-speaking Husain was surprised to find that despite compulsory sex segregation and full hijab, Saudi men were much less modest and more predatory towards women than men in other countries he had lived. Despite the modest dress of his wife – who "out of respect for local custom, ... wore the long black abaya and covered her hair in a black scarf" – she was on two occasions "accosted by passing Saudi youths from their cars. … In supermarkets I only had to be away from [my wife] for five minutes and Saudi men would hiss or whisper obscenities as they walked past."

Muslims edit

See also: Islam § Islam and law
Women's entrance, Blue Mosque, Yerevan

Sex segregation is one of the most visible aspects of Islam. In some parts of the world, mosques are sex-segregated, with separate sections for men and women. In China, the Hui people go a step further and have separate mosques for men and women.

Under some interpretations of Islamic law, called Sharia (also spelled Shari'ah, Syariah, etc.), physical contact between persons of the opposite sex, with the exception of certain immediate family members, is forbidden. Hand shaking between men and women is not encouraged in some majority-Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan. As a general rule, in these countries, men are not allowed to get close to or touch women. This taboo can extend to Muslim immigrants to the Western world as well.

A concept that is often relevant is mahram, a close relative, towards whom sex segregation is not applied. Strictly, a mahram is a person to whom you could not be married under any circumstances according to Sharia because of the close relationship. A mahram could be your father, brother, grandfather or even son but not your male cousins and probably not your uncle if you are a woman.

In addition to actual touching, khulwa/khalwat ("proximity") is forbidden. This includes being in private with a non-mahram, which can be a crime under Sharia and, regardless, can destroy the reputation of a woman in some societies.

Honor killing is the murder of an individual, either an outsider or a member of a family, by someone seeking to protect what they see as the dignity and honor of themselves or their family. Honor killings are often connected to religion (sex segregation, marriage and similar religious rules), caste and other forms of hierarchical social stratification, or to sexuality. The Middle East, South Asia and North Africa are regions with the highest numbers of honor killings. Evidence of honor killings exists in many countries, but most cases are reported in Arab and Muslim countries, with Pakistan having the highest number of documented and estimated honor killings in the world. Honor killings also happen in the corresponding immigrant communities. The term historically used for honor killings in Pakistan, karo-kari (Urdu: کاروکاری), refers to sexual intercourse outside the bonds of marriage.

For a Muslim Ghayrah (Arabic: غَيْرَة) is the uneasiness in his heart which moves him to guard his family from indecency. For conservative Muslims, the enforcement of the wearing of the hijab by a Muslim man's wife and daughters and the prevention of the free mingling between the sexes for those under a Muslim man's guardianship are necessary actions under the concept of Ghayrah to preserve one's honor.

Orthodox Jews edit

Similarly, many Orthodox Jews do not shake hands between the sexes; if you are introduced to an Orthodox Jew of the opposite sex, take your cues from their behavior and shake their hand if they offer it and you're comfortable with doing so.

A mechitza (Hebrew: מחיצה, partition or division) in Halakha (Jewish Law) is a partition, particularly one that is used to separate men and women during prayers in Orthodox synagogues. It can be as unobtrusive as a slightly higher railing or banister than one between rows and as extreme as a curtain in front of a balcony far away from the bimah (altar).

Christianity edit

While there is little sex segregation in the general Christian community, members of most Roman Catholic religious orders such as friars, monks and nuns are required to be celibate and live in sex segregated cloisters. Also the priests in Catholic churches are generally required to live in celibacy.

Several Christian denominations have an issue with improper sexual conduct among their laymen, but segregation is practised in only a few contexts.

Buddhism edit

As is true among Christians, there is little sex segregation in the general Buddhist community. However, Buddhist monks and nuns except for those in Japan or the Japanese diaspora are required to be celibate, and lay followers are expected to refrain from improper sexual conduct. Theravada Buddhist monks are forbidden from having any physical contact with women, including their own immediate family members. If women wish to offer food to a monk, the monk will usually place a piece of cloth on the floor where you can place the food for them to pick up, or he will be accompanied by a layman who will accept food from women and pass it to the monk. Some Buddhist temples may also have specific areas that are out of bounds to a particular sex, and Myanmar has a few temples that are off-limits to women. Buddhist temples that provide accommodation to tourists and pilgrims will almost always have sex-segregated accommodation; even if you are travelling together as a married couple, you will be separated into different rooms for the duration of your stay.

Female safety edit

Some sex segregation occurs for reasons of safety. For example a refuge for 'battered mothers or wives' may refuse to admit men, even those who are themselves the victims of domestic violence, both to prevent access by those who might commit or threaten violence to women and because women who have been subjected to abuse by a male might feel threatened by the presence of any man.

The main focus of groups working against sexual harassment has been the protection of women, but in recent years awareness has grown of the need to protect LGBTQ (for right of gender expression), transgender women and men. Women-only taxis, cars or compartments have also mostly been created for women's safety.

Countries and regions with high sex segregation edit

A bakery with two windows to separate male and female customers, Iran, 2021

Saudi Arabia is the most profoundly gender-segregated country in the world. Some other countries with high sex segregation are Iraq, Iran, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Some of the sex-segregated places in these countries are amusement parks, clothes stores, hair dresser's, beaches, libraries, schools and universities, restaurants, sport centers, clubs and stadiums, hospitals, banks, shopping malls (Saudi Arabia), music concerts (Iran), ... Furthermore, public transport vehicles like taxis, buses, subways, ... may be segregated.

Afghanistan edit

Bagh e Zanana (Persian: باغ زنانه), a female-only park, was founded in Kabul by a noblewomen called Shahrbanoo (Persian: شهربانو) during Babur's reign (1526–1857). Sex segregation dates back to old times in Afghanistan and continues today. During the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan period (2004–2021), a huge number of Afghan men didn't have any contact with females other than their own family (their mahram) until they went to university. During this period, sex segregation was applied to all other Afghan schools.

Immediately after 2021 Taliban takeover, all universities became sex-segregated all over the country. Since March 2022, the Taliban have segregated all amusement parks and resorts by sex. The Ministry for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice stated that in Kabul, males can go to amusement parks on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays while females can go to amusement parks on Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays. Women have also been forbidden from showing their faces in public since the Taliban takeover; all women are required to wear the niqab or burqa when in public places.

India and Nepal edit

Sex segregation has long roots in India. The zenana was the part of the house where men unrelated to women were forbidden to enter. The zenana of Akbar the Great (1542–1605) at Fatehpur Sikri was home to more than five thousand women, who had each been given their own suite of rooms.

Attukal Pongala is a 10-day religious festival celebrated at the Attukal Bhagavathy Temple (a Hindu religious shrine) in Thiruvananthapuram. On the ninth day there is a huge gathering of millions of women on the temple surroundings. No men are allowed in this festival.

Karwa Chauth is a festival celebrated by Hindu women of Northern and Western India on the fourth day after Purnima (a full moon) in the month of Kartika.

According to the tradition of chhaupadi, Hindu women in western Nepal reside in a small hut, called a Chhau Goth, for 5 days during menstruation where men are not allowed to enter. In a Nepali survey around 2017, one district with around 49,000 households had over 500 of these huts.

A pink rickshaw (also known as pink auto) is an alternative to normal auto rickshaws for female passengers in some cities of India. Pink rickshaws were first launched 2013 in Ranchi by the government of India.

Nowadays in India, airport security is sex segregated, with separate queues for men and women.

  • Kerala: sex segregation is mandatory in temple ponds and certain public ghats. In any public transport like buses, the front rows are reserved for ladies, and men are not allowed to sit there, even if the seats are unoccupied. Likewise, there are some lady coaches in trains, where only women, girls, and pre-pubescent male children are admitted.

The Haji Ali Dargah, Mumbai was constructed in 1431 in memory of a wealthy Muslim merchant, Sayyed Peer Haji Ali Shah Bukhari, who gave up all his worldly possessions before making a pilgrimage to Mecca. Women are not allowed to enter and touch the tomb of the male saint.

Iran edit

NO ENTRY FOR MEN sign on a gym in Iran, winter, 2022. In Iran, men are prohibited from watching women's sporting events.
Sex segregation in a religious solemnity, Aran o Bidgol, Iran
Sign prohibiting entry by women in the Thanboddhay Paya Buddhist temple, Monywa, Myanmar

Sex segregation of public places such as beaches or swimming pools was ordered and legally introduced after the Islamic revolution in 1979. Since then all primary and secondary schools and some universities are segregated by sex. Nowadays, in bakeries across Iran, men and women must stand in separate lines when buying bread, a staple food Iranians buy every day. This is in order to prevent people from touching or looking at non-mahrams.

Urban buses are divided into two parts. Men are required to get on and off through the front door, while the back section and back doors are intended for women. There are women-only amusement parks in many big and small cities in the country, including Tehran and Shiraz. Women-only phone taxi agencies can be found in every big city. Traditional teahouses (Persian: قهوه‌خانه) are male-only, and females are not allowed to enter stadiums in order to watch men's soccer games. After the Islamic Revolution (1979), seating in all cinemas in the country was sex segregated for several years, but this is no longer the case. Only women are permitted in women's boutiques.

While many people like to attend mixed concerts, authorities are against that. In 2014 a concert by Iranian popular pop singer Mohsen Yeganeh was canceled in Urmia in north-west Iran due to sex mingling. Many concerts have been cancelled due to mixing between men and women in Iranian cities.

The first female-only hospital, Mahdieh, was established in 2007 in south Tehran. Female-only hospitals are not common, but most hospitals in Iran have different sections for male and female patients.

In traditional Persian residential architecture the andaruni is a part of the house in which the private quarters are established. This is specifically where the women of the house are free to move about without being seen by an outsider (non-mahram). Old homes had two door knockers, one for men and the other for women, though modern houses have only a single doorbell.

Visits to the "Zahirod Dole Graveyard" in Tehran dating back to Qajar period are restricted by sex, reserved for men at certain times and women at others. You may also see similar time tables at other sites which have a regular sex segregation program.

You may not be allowed to enter a hotel with a person of the opposite sex who is not a family member (mahram). In some cases you may be required to produce a marriage license or other proof of marriage. For tourists, these rules may be ignored.

Previously unknown, Valentine's Day has fast become popular among the youth and also some elders in big cities. In the 2010s, celebration of Valentine's Day became common in wealthy families and then spread among other levels of society. At first, there were many objections against it, but banning Valentine's Day would probably encourage the youth more towards it. One of the reasons for Valentine's Day breaking out into the general population in Iran is the change in relations between the sexes in big cities, which since the 2000s are no longer bound to marriage.

Another way for youth in big cities to get around the sex segregation, especially since the 2010s, is having mixed parties, such as graduate parties. However any physical contact and out-of-marriage relationship is a crime and police arrest people whom they discover.

In 2022, the Iranian parliament is approving a legal bill for providing safety of women and girls (in Persian: لایحه صیانت، کرامت و تأمین امنیت بانوان در برابر خشونت), which says that any man who has physical contact with a woman in public space, including just touching, will be sentenced to whipping.

Iraq edit

A class of a girls' school in Iraq

Women are rarely without a male relative or friend for escort. Men should not stand close to, stare at, or touch women allover Iraq. Gender-isolated education is conducted through higher-education, due to religious ideas of sex segregation. Hotels and motels all have strict rules for sex segregation.

Cities like Baghdad and Mosul had some of the best and old public baths called hammam. Hammams were generally single-sex, with men and women having separate bathhouses or bathing times. Nowadays the oldest surviving bathhouse in Baghdad is Rasheed Bath for Men. For women, the baths provided the only refuge from the humdrum, cloistered life of conservative Muslim society. Women also used the pretext of nudity to check prospective daughters-in-law for physical flaws.

The decline of Iraq’s baths began in the 1980s when Iraq’s oil wealth reached its citizens. They began moving to suburbs into new homes with modern plumbing and some even with saunas.

Israel edit

Human sex segregation on Jerusalem Day
Separate beach in Ashkelon

Sex segregation is a controversial topic in Israel, with a struggle between a secular majority and an ultra-Orthodox minority over lifestyle in the country. Today, at the holy places, men and women pray in separate sections.

Liberal Israeli Jews do not practice sex segregation at all, and the liberal city of Tel Aviv is similar to many European cities in that there are typically crowds wearing bikinis and swim trunks on the beach in good weather, and you will see many lovers walking hand in hand on the streets.

Men and women are separated from each other at Western Wall. In general, visitors should be respectful of Orthodox Jewish and Muslim customs on modesty, and might consider not reaching out to shake the hand of a person of the opposite sex who's dressed in what looks like modest, conservative clothing, unless they offer their hand first.

Intercity buses edit

While Haredim-oriented bus routes used to enforce sex segregation, anti-discrimination rulings by the Israeli supreme court have made this practice illegal; where it does occur, expect media scandals to ensue. However, Haredim will still voluntarily practice gender segregation and move to another seat or stand if someone of the opposite sex sits next to them on a bus.

In 2023, The protest in Bnei Brak came after media reported that several bus drivers had forced women to either sit in the back or simply refused to take them on board.

Pakistan edit

Pink women-only cabs can be seen in Karachi. Later those have started in other Pakistan large cities like Peshawar, Lahore and Islamabad. Drivers of these pink taxis are women wearing a pink scarf and black coat as their uniform. The initiative to establish these no-men-allowed taxis is called to be empowering women. Pink taxis in Pakistan are also known as "Paxi".

A women-only park called Fatima Jinnah was established in Lahore in 2012 with 7-foot-tall walls. It was claimed that such parks protect women from harassment and sexual assault. This kind of park, called a "women's park," is common in Islamic cities in many countries. Men are not allowed to enter.

In Pakistan, government schools are all single-sex education. Most colleges are also single-sex education institutions.

Saudi Arabia edit

No women at the hotel gym, Jeddah
Male-only space of a mosque in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Until recently, Saudi Arabia was perhaps most profoundly sex-segregated nation on Earth, although rapid reforms since 2021 have removed most legal requirements for segregation.

Traditionally, social events are largely predicated on the separation of men and women; the mixing of non-related (non-mahram) men and women at parties and other social gatherings is extremely rare and limited to some of the modernist Western-educated families.

Many (perhaps most) areas of life in Saudi Arabia are segregated by sex to ensure that unrelated men and women have no possibility of "mingling" (khulwa, a punishable crime). Under the rules of segregation, all people are divided into three groups:

  • Families. The basic unit of Saudi life, families consist of women accompanied by their mahrams (legal male relatives) — father, brother, husband, uncle, nephew — and children. It is against the law for a man to be accompanied anywhere by a woman who is not his wife or a family member, and religious police pay particular attention to interracial couples.
  • Single men (bachelors). Men not accompanied by their families. Despite common use of the word "bachelor", it is irrelevant whether the man is married or not; a husband will dine in the bachelor section at lunch when he is alone.
  • Single women. Women not accompanied by their families. This is by far the most restricted group. Most of the facilities for families will admit single women, while they are never supposed to be allowed in the men's section, and are subject to uncomfortable stares when they are; it is against the law for a woman to be accompanied anywhere by a man who is not her husband or a family member (except a hired driver or a taxi driver). The punishment will be worse for the man than for the woman. While the man is forced to sign a written oath not to repeat the offense and may be subject to lashing or prison, women are generally "returned" to their families, with a male family member signing on her behalf. The cultural value placed on "modesty" and "honor" makes the religious police reluctant to openly "out" an offending female and they will try to sweep the problem under the rug, unless in more "egregious" cases.

In Saudi Arabia, museums have separate opening hours for families and men ("families" typically include single women).

Special amusement parks for women, so-called "women parks" have been created. The first female-only trampoline park was established by Bounce in Riyadh in 2018.

Women's banks were an innovation allowed in 1980 to give women a place to put their money without having to have any contact with men. The banks employ women exclusively for every position except for the guards posted at the door to see that no men enter by mistake.

The Labor Ministry has banned the employment of men in stores selling lingerie and other women's garments and perfumes. This policy started in 2005 when the Ministry announced a policy of staffing lingerie shops with women. Since the shops served women customers, employing women would prevent mixing of the sexes in public (ikhtilat).

Since the 1979 Sahwa (Arabic: الصحوة الإسلامية; Islamic Awakening), religious police, called Mutawa, have had the duty to monitor social behaviour, especially the strict segregation of the sexes. However, the religious police were stripped of unchecked power after being blamed for the deaths of 15 girls in a fire in a girls’ school in Mecca. Members of the Mutawa were reported to have hindered the rescue of the students by refusing to allow male emergency personnel to touch girls in order to lead them out of the burning building.

In September 2017, women were allowed to enter King Fahd Stadium for the first time, for a celebration commemorating the Kingdom's 87th anniversary. They were seated in a specific section for families. Though welcomed by many, the move drew backlash from conservatives holding on to the country's strict gender segregation rules.

The capital, Riyadh, is the most conservative of Saudi Arabia’s cities. 61 streets have been constructed with the aim to be pedestrian-friendly. These streets were nicknamed “shari‘ al-hawamil” (streets for pregnant women). Frequent checkpoints and religious police who may pop up at any moment, as well as security checks (taftish) at the entrances to women-only spaces, will check you for illegal items like cameras, reinforce the feeling that so much is forbidden, regimented, monitored.

In 2006 Saudi Arabia, a labour law was confirmed in order to remove the prohibitions of mixed sex spaces, however these have been sparsely implemented till now. In a response to this in Riyadh a women’s co-working space has been established called SheWorks. In work spaces, meeting rooms are specially designed with two entrances, for men and women, that have a frosted glass wall between them to maintain the sex segregation in the workspace. In some Saudi workplaces, men and women often work separately in accordance with Islamic teachings, a basis that SheWorks operates around. This sex segregation method was first introduced by a woman named Maha Shirah in Riyadh who established a SheWorks factory in 2014.

Some factories such as Luna food in Jeddah have all-female production line and men are not allowed to enter. While segregating sexes isn't a legal requirement since 2005 on, but most employers continue to separate the sexes.

The biggest female-only shopping centers of the world are in Saudi Arabia. Inside the shopping mall of the Kingdom Centre (Al Mamlaka), a modern tower built in 2001 in downtown Riyadh, there is a whole floor reserved for women called the Ladies Kingdom. On this floor there are many female-only cafes.

Situated in the Al Mathar part of Riyadh, Luthan Hotel & Spa is women-only. Everyone under the roof of the Luthan hotel is a woman and men are not welcome there.

Other countries edit

female-only car parking

In the less segregated countries, it is not uncommon for a formally single-sex association to have some members of the opposite sex or invite groups with opposite-sex members to some events. For example, a girl guide troop may camp together with a boy scout troop, and some boys and girls may share tents during the camp while being expected to respect each others' privacy and keep their hands to themselves.

In some states of Germany, a percentage of parking lots in favourable positions (guarded, near the exit) must be reserved for women, for their safety. In Sweden another approach has been taken: feminist snow removal was introduced in some municipalities, which meant that instead of first clearing the main streets to allow car traffic to flow, the first streets cleared were the minor ones, those used to lead children to daycare and to do daily grocery shopping.

There are still single-sex schools in many countries where sex-segregation isn't commonly practised, although co-education has become the rule. The curriculum is usually the same in boys' and girls' schools in these countries. Some subjects, such as gymnastics or sexual health, may be taught separately, although coeducation in these subjects is common, too. Some more sex-segregated education is (controversially) proposed even in places like Sweden: would segregated lessons free girls from always playing a traditional female role, which might not suit all of them and might hamper their learning? Similarly for boys.

Brazil edit

Rio pink carriage

In 2006, the Legislative Assembly of the State of Rio de Janeiro approved a law which enacted segregated areas on public transport for women, commonly known as “pink carriages.”

China edit

Female-only subway, Guangzhou, China
Female Waiting Area in Zhongshan Park Station, Wuhan, China
A women clothes store in Taiwan with a sign meaning men are not allowed to enter.

Women's mosques can be found in the provinces of Henan, Shanxi, Shaanxi and Hebei. As Islam has principles of segregating the sexes, many places of worship divide prayer space into two in the main building, but in a few countries such as China, separate buildings were constructed. At the end of the Ming dynasty and early Qing dynasty, Hui women had begun to form their own mosques. The oldest surviving women's mosque in China is Wangjia Hutong Women's Mosque of Kaifeng, which dates to 1820. As a result of having separate women-only mosques, China's Hui Muslims have a longstanding and unique tradition of ordaining female imams.

Egypt edit

The idea of a “pink taxi” in Egypt emerged after numerous women demanded women-only cabs. Advocates of the idea claimed that the taxis would help shield women against possible harassment and sexual assault.

La Femme Beach is a female-only beach in Marina El Alamein, Egypt.

Greece edit

The UNESCO-listed Mount Athos, a monastery, is male-only, even for visitors.

Indonesia edit

Women in a women-only KRL Commuterline passenger car, Greater Jakarta

Indonesia is the most populous Islamic country in the world. In the commuter trains of Greater Jakarta, there are women-only carriages at the front and back of each train. The front sections of Transjakarta buses are also reserved for women. However, outside of the northeastern Sumatran province of Aceh, which is under a strict form of shariah law, Indonesia tends to be fairly relaxed about mingling between the sexes compared to many Islamic countries in the Middle East.

Japan edit

Women-only train in Japan

According to a poll in 2017, nearly 70 percent of women in Tokyo back the single-sex carriages introduced in the city in 2000 to combat a phenomenon commonly known as chikan, or groping, on trains. Nowadays in Japan cities, women-only cars generally run on weekdays. As a tourist you should pay attention to signs in platforms and train doors which indicate boarding areas for the cars, and the days and times when the cars are women-only.

Women are banned from entering Okinoshima, a sacred Japanese island which is home to the 17th century shrine of Okitsu. This island gained UNESCO world heritage status in 2017. The whole island is privately owned by the shrine.

Mount Omine is a sacred mountain in Nara, Japan and women can't enter past its gate. This place is famous for its three tests of courage and devotion to Shugendo, a religion which was founded in the 8th century by En no Gyoja along with the monastery.

Lebanon edit

In Lebanon, male passengers are not allowed to get on pink women-only cabs (Arabic: Banet Taxi).

Malaysia edit

Women-only passenger car, Malaysia
A sign in the Kuala Lumpur commuter railroad station indicates the area for loading the "Ladies Coach" ("koc wanita" in Malay)

In Malaysia, when a Muslim man and woman are alone together without the man being a mahram, they can be arrested for khalwat (see Muslims above), subject to trial in a Syariah court and a penalty of a heavy fine or imprisonment. This is particularly strictly enforced in the conservative states of Terengganu and Kelantan. For example, in 2009, 197 students were charged with khalwat in the state of Terengganu within seven months.

Syariah Law on khalwat does not apply to non-Muslims in Malaysia, though mistakes are occasionally made that require a non-Muslim erroneously caught in the system to retain a syariah lawyer and appeal a decision. Khalwat laws also do not present a problem to foreign Muslim tourists sharing a hotel room, regardless of their relationship, because laws on the privacy of hotel guests prevent the release of information on hotel registration to religious authorities. However, it is best to be careful not to put a local Muslim (particularly a woman) in a compromising position as, in addition to a possible penalty to them, you might ruin their reputation forever.

Nevertheless, except for the aforementioned states of Terengganu and Kelantan, Malaysia tends to be fairly relaxed about mingling between the sexes compared to many Islamic countries in the Middle East. Sexual harassment is common, and since 2010 trains on the Malaysian Railway have included pink-coloured women-only cars as a means of cutting down on it. There are also women-only buses in Kuala Lumpur since 2010. In 2011, the government launched a women-only taxi service in the greater Kuala Lumpur area. The taxis have women drivers, and operate on an on-call basis.

Mexico edit

Women-only buses were implemented in Mexico City in 2008. The Mexico City Metro has women-only cars. Mexico City also has women-only taxis and buses called the "pink line". However, these buses and taxis are gone, as of 2023.

Myanmar edit

No women are allowed in Thanboddhay Paya Buddhist temple in Monywa. Women are not allowed to enter the sanctum sanctorum of the Mahamuni Paya in Mandalay, where the sacred Buddha statue is located; only men are allowed to enter to place gold leaves on the statue.

Russia edit

Although most of Russia is not profoundly sex segregated, the main exception is the republic of Chechnya in the Caucasus, which is still a highly conservative Sunni Muslim society, and where Sharia Law has been implemented. For instance, men and women are not allowed to go on dates unless they are accompanied by a family member as a chaperone, and unmarried women may not walk on the streets unless they are accompanied by a male guardian. Holding hands in the street is not permitted between a man and a woman, and men are expected to walk in front of their wives instead.

South Korea edit

South Korea is not profoundly sex-segregated, though a number of single-sex schools and women-only universities exist.

Singapore edit

Although little sex segregation exists in the general society, attitudes are still somewhat more conservative than in the West, and many consider it unacceptable for men and women to sleep in the same room unless they are close relatives or married. Many primary and secondary schools are still single sex, though all junior colleges (for 17–19-year-olds) and tertiary institutions such as universities are co-ed. Many commercial establishments offer special deals only to women; for instance, there are some credit cards that only women may apply for.

Turkey edit

Many resort towns in Turkey, especially those attracting a conservative visitor profile, feature women-only beaches, often denoted as kadınlar plajı ("ladies' beach") and found in discreet locations, where men are not allowed. This had historical precedent, with the quite popular Ladies' Beach in Kuşadası perhaps being the most widely known of them, although that particular beach no longer follows a sex segregation policy. Sarisu Beach and Adenya Hotel beach are some examples of women-only beaches as of 2022.

All but the most touristy Turkish baths impose sex segregation, by allocating either different parts of the building or different days of the week for men and women.

In long-distance buses and trains, you can't book a seat next to one that is already booked by a passenger of the opposite sex, even if no other seats are available. To avoid travelling separately, mixed-sex couples need to book their tickets within the same session.

U.S.A. edit

There are still some single-sex colleges and universities throughout the country. The male-only ones are overwhelmingly religious; not only is there a larger number of secular women-only colleges, but more of them are well-known. Even co-ed colleges often have "safe spaces" that are reserved only for women.

Some historic buildings edit

Some historic sex-segregated buildings as tourist attraction are:

  • Ladies Rest Room, Lewisburg (Tennessee)
  • Andaruni of Tabatabai House, Kashan
  • Andaruni of Qavam House, Shiraz
  • Andaruni of Amir Nezam House, Tabriz
  • Sabarimala Temple, Kerala
  • For enthusiasts of heritage tourism there are many attractions in Japan. In Japanese architecture, the Ōoku (大奥, "great interior") refers to the women's quarters of Edo Castles, the section where the women connected to the reigning shōgun resided.

See also edit

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