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'Helpful' car tips fire gender row

2013-10-31 08:49

‘LACK A SENSE OF DIRECTION’: Beijing authorities have earned the ire of many road users after helpful driving tips have been labelled as discriminatory. Image: AFP

‘Don’t wear high heels while driving, don’t panic if you’re going the wrong way... Beijing Police have released what it claims are helpful tips for female drivers. Road users however are unconvinced claiming the tips are discriminatory.

BEIJING, China – “Don't wear high heels while driving. Make sure you release the handbrake before setting off. Don't panic if you suddenly realise you're going the wrong way...”

Those are some of the suggestions given by the Beijing police department to female drivers in a series of online postings that have sparked a backlash among road users who claim the tips are sexually discriminatory.


One of the posts read: "Some women drivers lack a sense of direction, and while driving a car, they often hesitate and are indecisive about which road they should take.

"Women drivers often discover that when they're driving by themselves they're not able to find the way to their destination, even if they've been there many times. Women drivers, please change into flat shoes when you're driving."

Another post features a cartoon depicting a confrontation between a police officer and a woman driving a vehicle shaped like a large high-heel shoe. It relates to a story of a woman named Liu who caused a crash and reporting to officers: "I hit the brake, but my shoe got stuck in the car!"

Another driving tip points out that "while the handbrake is typically used for stopping the car's movement, quite a few new women drivers often hurriedly get on the road without releasing it".

The posts appeared on the police department's account, which has nearly six-million followers.


Women in China are guaranteed equal rights under the law but conservative social customs often lead to gender discrimination in workplaces, schools and in other areas of modern life.

One of the police postings cited an example of a "careless" woman driver who knocked over a pedestrian and forgot to lock her door when she went to check on the person's condition, only to realise someone had stolen her wallet when she returned to her vehicle.

The police posting said: "After getting into an accident, it's easy for women drivers to get nervous and panic. Their minds usually go blank and it's easy for them to let bad people exploit the opportunity."

Web users responded at what they condemned as sexual discrimination on an account maintained by the authorities.

One user asked:  "Surely this official microblog is planning to devote its next postings to tips for male drivers?"
Another wrote: "All new drivers have these kinds of problems, regardless of gender - not to mention that the vast majority of accidents are caused by men."


According to a March 2013 World Health Organisation estimate, 77% of all global road traffic deaths occur among men and men younger than 25 are nearly three times as likely to be killed in a car crash as women in the same age range.

Beijing police did not immediately respond to a request for comment by AFP.

Expatriates in the Chinese capital regularly lament road safety standards in the city. Many drivers of both genders appear to consider mirrors as purely ornamental and view the turn indicator as an optional extra.
Read more on:    china  |  roads  |  driving  |  police  |  women

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