Tuesday, 25 January, 2022
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Public transports must be made safe for women

Public transports must be made safe for women

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There is no way to deny the contribution of women in the development of civilisation. Presently, women are moving forward despite various adversities. Advancement of women in our society is not very smooth. Physical abuse, eve-teasing, domestic violence, sexual harassment and rape are active barriers to women’s advancement. Women suffer from social and financial insecurity. I hope the conscious community will think a little where the number of those tortures will stand in the future at this rate. Women of Bangladesh, a developing country, are being tortured every day due to extreme decadence of civilisation. Generally, in our country, every man and woman has the freedom to move around freely and express their views. The issue of women's education is an integral part of our social progress and economic development. In modern society, the basic rights of all, irrespective of gender, are equal. In this situation, the reality of women being victims of eve-teasing, torture or rape is very unfortunate.

Road accidents are occurring all over the country every day. Many people are losing their lives in these tragic accidents or facing the curse of disability. In addition to such tragic road accidents, sexual harassment, rape and murder following rape are also happening. Despite the frequent discussions about road accidents, the issue of women being victimized in public transport is seldom important.

According to women's rights activists, the issue of women’s safety in public transports is not being discussed although various demands and suggestions are made to reduce road accidents. The lack of women-friendly vehicles is a major cause for concern for their safety. In order to ensure the safety of women, there should be women friendly vehicles. The mentality of the passengers, drivers and helpers must be changed. Apart from other safety related activities, training of women drivers should also be taken into consideration. According to the authorities, lack of trained women drivers on the road are also a problem for the safety of women. It goes without saying that there are no attempts at training professional women drivers for creating a women friendly transport system.

According to a BRAC study published last year entitled 'Sexual Harassment for Women and Accident-Free Roads', 94 per cent of women are subjected to verbal, physical or other forms of sexual harassment while travelling on public transport in the country. Most women are sexually harassed by men between the ages of 41 and 60. The main reasons behind rising sexual harassment of women are lack of enforcement of law, overcrowding in buses, inadequate lighting in vehicles, etc.

 Women are constantly facing various obstacles both inside and outside the house. For lack of security, women cannot walk alone in the city. Insecurity, constant sexual harassment and uncertainty of proper enforcement of the law to protect women are hindering their freedom of movement. In addition, women are also subjected to disrespectful behaviour while travelling in public transports. Not only the transport workers – drivers and helpers, but also the male passengers subject females to sexual violence as it happened with a student of English department of Jagannath University on November 20, 2021. At present, Jagannath University is conducting semester final examinations in all the departments. An unpleasant incident happened to a student on a public transport while she was on her way to Dhaka from her village home Narshingdi to attend an examination. She was harassed by a passenger that day. But her strength of courage saved her from great danger.

Such social degradation is increasing due to lack of morality, values, education, proper application of the law and above all else due to non-observance of religious precepts. There is law in the country and also hatred in the society against those who harass women. Yet such evils are rising incurably in the society. There are no accurate statistics on how many innocent lives of teenage girls are thus being destroyed each year in the country.

We have to create a social movement or resistance to stop the abuse of women and children, and enact laws in accordance with the guidelines of the High Court judgment to prevent sexual harassment in educational institutions and workplaces. We need to ensure proper implementation of the Prevention of Violence against Women and Children Act by amending and modernising it. Besides, effective measures have to be taken to expedite the trial. It is necessary to ensure the safety of women by forming educational management committees, social organisations, cultural institutions and neighbourhood committees in a joint venture with them as well as members of the law enforcement agencies.

Moreover, no woman or child should be tortured or raped. No school, college or university student should be subjected to any form of eve teasing or sexual harassment or rape. Appropriate steps should be taken for the smooth movement of students in any educational institutions. There needs to be exemplary punishment for crimes like abuse of women and children. There is a need for awareness and promotion of the Women and Child Abuse Prevention Act.

 

Subrina Obaid Anika, student, Department of Bangla, Jagannath University