Pregnant women and priority seats

Now that my fiancee and I are expecting a baby next year, I’ve been thinking a lot about priority seats on trains and buses.  They’re seats that are designated for the elderly, handicapped, injured, pregnant and mothers with young children.  While I notice that people give up their seats for the elderly, I often see that pregnant women are ignored.  It’s not hard for people to notice priority seats.  They’re a different colour and there are big signs indicating that they are priority seats.  People are obligated to give them up for the specified people.  Pregnant women I’ve known have mentioned that usually people don’t give up seats for them.  They suddenly pretend to be sleeping or so interested in their cell phone or book that they “don’t notice.”  The usual culprits are salarymen.  I regularly see women, both young and middle-aged, giving up their seats for the elderly and pregnant women.  However, businessmen seem to completely ignore them.  When my fiancee and I are riding on the train and some salaryman decides he’s too important to give up his seat for my fiancee, I think I’ll be tempted to do what I can to embarrass him.

Does anyone have any stories about this?

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22 Comments

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22 responses to “Pregnant women and priority seats

  1. Dudes in any country don’t tend to give a shit about pregnant women or women struggling with kids. Get your wife to start screaming that her water is breaking… that will move them!

    • That’s true. Though I notice that people in Japan are more polite than in my home country, which is very well known for polite people as well. However, trains seem to turn people into selfish idiots. I guess I could get her to say that she needs to sit down or she may go into labour 🙂

  2. I notice this also on the train here in Los Angeles. I usually stand on the train. It bothers me a lot when I see lazy people sitting when there is a clearly pregnant woman standing nearby.

    • I actually saw a businessman push a woman who was trying to get the same seat. Not a pregnant woman, but it was still quite rude. I stand on the train when there are only a few seats left. The reason isn’t because I want to leave the seats for others, but because I don’t want to sit between 2 sweaty people on a hot train with low air conditioning.

  3. No stories of Japan, but when I was pregnant – I had to fight for my seats in trains from both men and women alike, even when I was already 8 months’ pregnant.

    And yeah, people pretend to be asleep to avoid having to give up their seats. I’ve got a female colleague who would publicly embarrass those who didn’t give their seats to pregnant me. Love that woman. 🙂

  4. I have no stories about it, but I’d say embarrass them as much as possible. It’s the only defence. Ask them directly why they didn’t give up their seat. I’d be interested in the excuses you hear.

  5. What a shame we are.I sometimes see the elder person giving up his seat to pregnant women. 😥

  6. Nobody ever gave up their seat for me, but to be fair, I did just look really fat until right at the end of my pregnancy.

    There was one instance right at the end though when it was obvious I was preggers, about to sit my waddling arse down when a salaryman pinched my seat, I was so angry, ryota and I started talking loudly about how terrible and rude some people are. This wasn’t at the priority seat so I couldn’t actually tell the dude off, I just made sure I gave him a hormonally charged kick in the shins as I got off at my stop.

  7. They do have these little pregnant “mark” keychains you clip on to your bag or purse or whatever that supposedly “alert” everyone around you are pregnant and thus should fork over a seat (you receive them when you register your pregnancy) – although I can’t really say if they work or not, as I find it too ridiculous to carry around. I would think my protruding abdomen would be enough of a sign without a little keychain.

    Nonetheless, I haven’t really ridden the train recently so I can’t say if people would move or not for me, but I’ve seen plenty of pregnant women (and elderly) on the train who have to stand because no one else moves. It’s ridiculous. (For the record, I usually stand on the train. But now that I’m 7 months pregnant, I don’t go very far in general and drive if I do.)

    • I have a coworker who had one of those pregnancy marks, and she said that she’s been given a seat only 4 or 5 times.

      About the only way we can get around is by bus and train here. No car. We live about a 25 minute walk from the station, so we usually take the bus. I find that people are better on the bus for giving up seats than they are on the train. Maybe because the driver can see everyone.

  8. S Fraser

    There are three times that I can remember where I have actually gone up to someone and asked them to give up their seat for a woman who was obviously pregnant. I found embarrassing them worked wonders.

  9. Anonymous

    Unfortunately I agree with you on this one. I find it shocking the way that pregnant ladies in need of a seat are ignored on the train. What’s even worse is that often someone in the priority seating that actually needs the seat, for example an elderly person, will often offer to give up their seat for a pregnant person while another person who does not need to be there, will remain in the priority seating. I read an interesting post a while ago with a great idea of sitting in a priority seat to save it for someone that needs it:
    http://www.deepjapan.org/a/1198

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