Extra-wide, women-only parking spots spark controversy in China

A large city in China set off an intense debate on the country's social media sites Monday for offering extra-large parking spots just for women. A state-run newspaper, the Qianjiang Evening News, reported that the city of Hangzhou began offering the pink-lined parking spots at highway service areas in March.

"The bigger parking spaces are for women drivers whose driving skills are not superb," Pan Tietong, the service area's manager, told the newspaper. "It's a humane measure."

People took to Sina Weibo, a Chinese social media site, to blast the sexist parking spaces, which are 1.5 times the size of a normal spot. The stereotype that women are worse drivers than men, it seems, knows no cultural barrier.

"This is sexism under the name of showing concern – whether one can park well depends on driving skills, not gender," one user said, according to the LA Times. "They should be called newbie drivers' spaces instead," said another.

Tietong told Shanghai Daily only eight of the 361 parking spots are reserved for female drivers. He also defended the practice, saying female drivers requested the spots, and if women feel confident parking in any other spot they are welcome to do so. He told the Daily that each female-only spot gets about 15 users each day.

Not everyone was critical of the parking spots. In fact, 67 percent of respondents to a poll about women-only parking spots thought Hangzhou was doing something right. China isn't even the first country to think of making women-only parking spots. In 2014, Seoul, Korea's city government painted 5,000 extra-wide parking spots pink for female drivers. In Germany, some locales require up to 30 percent of parking spots to be female-only, according to the Washington Post. Parking is the least of China's worries on the road. Every year, 200,000 people are killed in car-related accidents in the country, according to the International Business Times.

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