Nothing is done for the safety of women in public transport
Over the past few years, several surveys have been carried out on women who travel on public transport to understand the extent of the harassment they must endure – and the results are nothing short of alarming. In the latest survey, conducted online in May-June, it was found that around 87% of women have experienced some form of harassment on public transport at least once in their lifetime. The survey, conducted among more than 5,000 women in 24 districts, also found that 36% of female commuters experienced sexual harassment on buses, launches, trains and in terminals, and 57% of respondents considered public transport as totally dangerous.
Recently, another survey conducted by an NGO to find out the psychological impacts of such harassment on women and girls led to the conclusion that around half of the victims of harassment suffer from mental health problems later in life. . These conclusions are worrying to say the least and should hold the attention of our decision makers.
Unfortunately, despite these damning surveys of female commuters, we have not seen or heard of any action taken by the authorities to make public transport safe for them. Such inaction makes stalkers feel emboldened, and as a result, we may see a further increase in such incidents in the future.
Unfortunately, despite these damning investigations into the safety of women on public transport, we have seen no action by the authorities to remedy this situation. Such inaction emboldens stalkers, and as a result, we may see a further upsurge in such incidents in the future. The question is: why do the authorities not give the issue the importance it deserves? The organizations that conducted the surveys also made suggestions to improve the situation. Among them, the installation of CCTV cameras and vehicle tracking systems in all passenger vehicles, mentioning the names of drivers and helpers on the nameplates of each vehicle, etc. These are basic security measures that can be taken at any time. So what’s stopping them from doing this bare minimum?
Taking such measures will certainly help identify culprits and deter potential culprits from harassing female passengers in the future. In addition, it is also essential to increase the number of female-only buses and to have a system for women to file complaints of harassment on public transport. The fact that only 36% of women have protested when they have been harassed and only one percent have turned to law enforcement for redress, as the recent survey revealed, reflects the stigma and lack of social or legal support for victims.
However, following the steps mentioned above will not solve the problem; for that, we have to get to the root of the problem. The societal mindset that public transport is a place for men and men’s perception that women occupy their space need to be changed. These patriarchal mindsets have also had disturbing consequences in other areas. A change in this scenario is only possible if our decision makers respond to it correctly.