For a Safe Subway Station1)
On September 14, a female station employee who was inspecting the toilet at Sindang Station was killed by her former coworker who was stalking her. This incident is raising concern about guaranteeing the safety of female subway station employees. Following this incident, another female employee of the Seoul Metro experienced being groped by a drunken passenger while working alone at the ticket gate for the last trains of the night. Also, she shared her experience of being verbally abused and beaten with a plastic bottle by a passenger who was complaining to her. It is common for employees to be sexually harassed, verbally assaulted, and threatened; especially those who work alone at night are constantly exposed to these situations. One reason is that there is no equipment or system to protect them from various dangers. The use of gas guns, which employees had been required to carry in case of an emergency, was suspended two years ago. Also, triple rods or gas sprayers, as well as bulletproof vests, are not provided. Since the case at Sindang Station is one in which a female employee was killed while inspecting the toilet alone, the issue of single-person work is also drawing attention. According to the Seoul Metro, out of 265 stations on subway lines 1 to 8, 126 (47.5%) employ only two to three people per shift. There are 117 stations with three to four employees per shift and 22 stations with four to five employees. Places with only two to three people per shift suffer from a shortage of manpower, so it is common to conduct night patrols alone.
Due to growing anxiety among the employees, some stations have excluded them from the more dangerous duties. Moreover, the president of Seoul Metro said at the meeting of the Gender Equality and Family Committee held at the National Assembly on September 20, that it would reduce the number of female station employees on duty and use CCTVs instead of on-site patrols. The plan is to change the patrol system by attending to the scene if the CCTV shows any suspicious activity. It is the first time that Seoul Metro has officially announced measures to prevent a possible recurrence of incidents. However, in response, a female station employee at the Seoul Metro said, "I don't want women to be prevented from doing anything because of what happened due to gender violence. It is important to create a workplace where anyone can work regardless of gender. We do not want to give up our daily lives." She insisted that reducing the number of female station workers on duty is discrimination against women. In addition, the female employees emphasize that the number of employees should be expanded so that they can work in pairs when on total night patrols. It seems that it is necessary to supplement measures to protect victims of sexual violence in the workplace and expand the workforce so that women can work safely
1) Kang Eun, ""We Don't Want to Give Up Our Daily Lives" Female Station Employees' 'Right to Be Safe'", The Kyunghyang Shinmun, September 20, 2022