Saturday, 1 October, 2022

Make public transport safe for women

Make public transport safe for women

A new study reveals that sexual harassment against women has reached an epidemic proportion on public transport. The survey conducted on over 5000 women revealed that over 80 per cent of them faced harassment on public buses at least once in their lifetime, while 36 per cent respondents claimed that they face it on a regular basis. It speaks volumes about how unsafe the public transports are for women.

It is unfortunate that even though women’s participation in workplace, education and all other social activities have long been gradually increasing, we couldn’t ensure them a safe and sustainable way of commuting in cities. Due to poor planning and transportation facilities in urban areas, women do not have access to safe transportation. In rural areas the challenges are even more daunting.

The survey jointly conducted by UNDP, National Human Rights Commission and Centre for Research and Information has also revealed that only one per cent of the victims among the respondents went to law enforcers seeking justice. It indicates that most of the victims are remaining silent in fear of retribution or because of their distrust on the law enforcers.

But remaining silent or doing nothing to address the problem is not an option. The law enforcers and transport authorities must make a concerted efforts so that women do not face any form of harassment while using public transport. To encourage women to speak up and take legal action against harassment, there must be one stop support centre for women in every police station.

Women may be the direct victim of sexual violence perpetrated against them, but it affects the whole society at large, slows down social and economic progress because they constitute half of the population and an integral part of society. So, if we want to end violence and sexual harassment against women, the mindset of society has to be changed. The whole society – man and woman alike – must make concerted efforts to fight harassment on public buses, or any other public places or even at home.