Before moving to Germany, I wanted to prepare myself on what to expect when I got here. I watched youtube videos debunking German stereotypes, learning about culture and everything in between. Naturally, there are still things that surprise me. Besides still seeing cigarette advertisements, like I mentioned here, a couple of weeks ago I saw something else surprising: Women-Only Parking Stalls!
Like Canada, and I’m sure a lot of countries in the world, you can find parking in Germany for pregnant women, families, and disabled people. But parking just for women was a bit shocking to me!
After seeing the sign, I was a little taken-aback and confused. Was this really necessary? Then, we were in a parking garage that same day and I noticed a lot of parking stalls allocated to women. That’s when I realized that there must be a legitimate reason for this, it is Germany after all! It’s always funny how you can see something for the first time and then again in the same day!
The History Behind It
After doing a bit of reading, I learned that these Frauenparkplatz (Women-Only Parking Stalls) have existed in Germany since the 1990’s. They are a way to help women feel safer in parking garages. While not federally regulated, parking garages with Frauenparkplätzen must be close to the entrance, monitored by video surveillance, and well lit. Though these rules differ from state to state.
Since Germany introduced Frauenparkplätzen, other countries such as China, South Korea, and Indonesia have since followed suit.
Is It Really Necessary?
From personal experience, I know the feeling of being out alone in the dark and how vulnerable it makes you feel. I started work at my last job at 5am and had to walk only 100m from where I parked to get there. I always kept my phone in one hand and keys strategically placed in the other. While I’m not 100% more streetlights would have helped me feel safer, it wouldn’t harm the situation.
While I couldn’t find any information about the effectiveness of including women-only parking in garages, if it helps women feel safer then it’s not all bad. However, I’m sure that women aren’t the only people who feel unsafe in enclosed, dimly lit places. There must be a way to help every person feel safe without always having a battle of the sexes.
Adding a Little Humour…
Yes, it’s possible… Germans can be funny! (My apologies to any Germans reading this…) While potential violence against both women and men is nothing to laugh at, in 2012 the Mayor Triberg in South-West Germany decided to put his spin on the idea. He introduced 2 Men-Only parking stalls in their town. Naturally, he made them them difficult to park into because, men are better at driving, of course!
While this was an opinion piece more than interesting facts about Germany, I’d like to know your thoughts. How does this idea of creating “safer” parking spots for women make you feel? How can we improve public safety for both women and men?
Also, thank you to those to responded to my last post with ideas of topics you’d like to hear about! I will be working on it! If you have any more ideas, just leave a comment!