Women's Safety and Public Transportation

- Sandeep Gaikwad, Senior Programme Associate, Parisar

 

It has been 8 years. Nirbhaya was beaten, gang-raped and assaulted in a running private bus she was travelling in. A 26-year-old veterinary doctor, near Hyderabad, was gang-raped and smothered.  Then, they allegedly loaded her benumbed body onto a lorry and dropped it on the roadside. In UP, a truck collision resulted serious injury of the Unnao rape survivor and death of her relatives. The same survivor set on fire in the morning. A woman was on her way to a local court for a hearing on her rape case. Suzette Jordan, a prominent women's-rights activist and anti-rape campaigner from Kolkata, was offered to drop at home. She was gang-raped in a moving car and dumped on the street. 

India, no country for women, reported 88 rape cases every day in 2019 as per National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). The rape vulnerability of a girl or woman has been increasing day by day. Rapes in India is a new phenomenon. Above mentioned incidents are common phenomena in the society. But there is a similarity among these incidents which highlight the very fact that women are not safe on the road. No one is safe on the road in India, but women are more vulnerable during travel. Had there been efficient/regulated bus transport facilities, perhaps these horrible incidents could have been averted or at least they could have minimized the gravity of the horrific act. 

In rapes aftermath, India screams and debates to ensure women safety. After Nirbhaya rape, public protest took place in capital city. Similar protests occurred throughout the country. People demanded severe punishment (even the death penalty) for the perpetrators. Several steps were announced to ensure safety of women. All seemed to be futile. No one talked about providing safe travel facilities to women.

Are we really mindful about how to keep our Mothers and Sisters safe during the journey? 

Women are stepping out of home for education, work etc and they are paying a price for that. Due to non-availability of facilities, women have to depend upon unreliable means of transportation which are risky and not pocket friendly. Women can‘t have the luxury of having a personal vehicle due to socio-economic background and social stigma especially in rural India. Various incidents have shown that even personal vehicles cannot ensure safety of women.

Lack of efficient and unregulated bus-based facilities make women more vulnerable. A 25-year-old lecturer in Wardha, was set ablaze by a stalker in Maharashtra. She was on her way to college in a personal vehicle. She could have been safe if a regulated bus facility had been there.

Lakh ko 50 campaign for Maharashtra which demands more buses running and makes provision of bus services mandatory in all cities. Lakh ko 50 campaign also provides a platform to share their plight during travel and envisages to mitigate the misery being faced by women during travel.

Efficient public transport for women is not the panacea for women’s issues but Several issues can be minimized if regulated bus transportation is provided mainly catering to the needs of women folks. By providing such facilities in a regulated manner will certainly reduce the trauma being faced by this vulnerable section of the society. 

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