A German train operator has announced it is introducing a women-only carriage on its trains following several violent sex attacks.
Mitteldeutsche Regiobahn will introduce the option for women passengers on the Leipzig to Chemnitz line, positioning the carriages next to the train conductor.
“The local proximity to the customer service representative is chosen deliberately,” a Mitteldeutsche Regiobahn spokesman said.
The carriages are designed to make solo female travellers or women with young children feel safer on trains.
Boys up to the age of ten will also be allowed to ride in the special carriages.
There were several sex attacks against women in Germany on New Year’s Eve, widely blamed on migrants who had recently arrived in the country.
In Cologne, a crowd of some 1,000 men “of North African or Arab appearance” was able to mass around the city’s main train station, with roving gangs allegedly assaulting dozens of women with impunity.
Last week, German authorities brought the first sexual assault charge stemming from the New Year’s Eve mob violence against an Algerian man.
The 26-year-old suspect is believed to have groped a woman while he and around ten other men surrounded her at the city’s main train station, a spokesman for the Cologne administrative court told AFP.
“The first sexual assault charge has now been filed,” the spokesman said, nearly three months after the events that inflamed public debate about a huge influx of refugees and migrants to Germany.
Prosecutors received more than 1,100 criminal complaints over incidents on New Year’s Eve in Germany’s fourth biggest city, including over 480 accusations of sexual assault, news agency DPA reported.
Most of the 120 suspects are from Algeria or Morocco, including recent arrivals and men who have been in Germany for years.
Only three people have been convicted in the ensuing months, for theft, and the city’s police chief conceded in February that most perpetrators may never be caught.
The attacks fanned tensions in Germany, which took in nearly 1.1 million asylum seekers in 2015, mainly from Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, and put intense pressure on Chancellor Angela Merkel for her welcoming stance toward refugees fleeing war.
Far-right groups railed against “sex jihadists” and “rapefugees” in street rallies and the events were seen as pivotal in delivering strong results to a populist anti-migrant party, the AfD, in three state elections this month.
Women-only carriages are very common across much of Asia. The last women-only carriage in Britain was removed in 1977.