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‘For the auto-lady’s convenience’ A Kazan department store unveiled pink parking spaces ‘for female customers’ and nobody was happy about it

Source: Meduza
Egor Aleyev / TASS / Scanpix / LETA

State prosecutors in the Russian city of Kazan have ordered a local department store to remove its newly created parking spaces “for female customers.” The Kazan Prosecutor’s Office is maintaining that the creation of parking spaces exclusively for women is illegal and indicative of “signs of discrimination against drivers on the basis of gender.” 

The Central Department Store (or TSUM) in Kazan unveiled the ten pink parking spaces at the end of July. Each spot included a sign that read “Parking for female customers,” along with a woman’s silhouette (the same one typically used for bathrooms).

“The first women’s parking in Russia was opened outside of the Kazan TSUM”

The department store’s general director, Ravil Akhmetov, said that the parking spaces were created “with love,” for girls, young mothers, grandmothers, and grandfathers (yes, grandfathers). The man behind the project, the head of the store’s development and tenant relations department, Mikhail Shutov, explained that “for the auto-lady’s convenience,” each parking space was made nearly twice as long as usual — 4.4 meters instead of 2.5 (about 14 feet vs. 8 feet). According to Shutov, the wider parking spaces are “convenient for loading purchases into the trunk.”

According to a report from television channel TNV, some local residents consider the creation of parking spots for women a sign of sexism, while others think its an infringement on men’s rights (since there were no wider parking spaces designated for them). One female driver, with 15 years experience on the road, told the TV channel that she was upset about the parking space being painted pink. “I’m a brunette myself, not a blonde. The [color pink] isn’t quite relevant here,” she said.

Television channel TNV’s report on “Tatarstan’s first women’s parking”

The parking spaces also received criticism online, including among male social media users. In a local news group on the Russian social networking site VKontakte, several men wrote that creating parking spaces for women is “pure sexism” (there were, of course, those who thought differently).

The story about the pink parking spots was picked up by a number of media outlets on August 4, the same day that the Kazan department of the traffic police demanded that the parking spaces “for female customers” be removed within three days. The traffic police explained that the redesigned parking spots didn’t comply with Russian law: “There’s no concept of men’s or women’s parking in the traffic regulations. There are concepts about the width of parking spaces and the number of spaces for disabled people, but not according to gender.”

The parking spaces “for female customers” were removed on the afternoon of August 6.

“They’ve already painted over the women’s parking near the TSUM”

Text by Alexander Baklanov

Translation by Eilish Hart

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