Daily commute is daily ordeal for women

Daily commute is daily ordeal for women

Even travelling in women compartment in metro has its own share of problems

College students who travel long distances also prefer the metro rather than the bus, but there are  places which are not connected with the metro.

For women in Delhi, travelling on public transport is no less than an ordeal. The daily commute could involve dodging crowds at Metro stations, finding space in a crowded bus, keeping an eye on their handbag and avoding male passengers who want to get too close.

“Buses are more convenient than metros. There are bus stops almost every kilometre, but due to overcrowding in DTC buses, I choose to walk if it's a short distance. Travelling on buses is terrible, if you don't get a seat and are standing. Some men will go to any extent to touch you. And it happens everyday, this is such an invasion of my privacy,” said Sumitra Tripathy, who works for a government bank in Connaught Place.

College students who travel long distances also prefer the metro rather than the bus, but there are  places which are not connected with the metro.

“If you sit inside the bus, then you are touched from the back. I have seen men standing at bus stops and making cheap gestures by touching their private parts. While I am waiting at the bus stop, there have been so many times when men in cars have stopped in front of me, making lewd comments, sometimes even asking me to get in.

“And it's not just me, ask women who commute daily and all of them will agree that this harassment takes place on a daily basis,” said Vanshika Gupta, who takes the bus from her Vasant Vihar home to Lady Shri Ram College.

A DTC official said bus conductors regularly go through gender sensitising sessions. “On holidays like Holi, we put more officials on the buses to keep a check,” he said.

Even the preferred option of the metro, on which one coach is reserved for women, comes with its share of problems. Women face misbehaviour and aggression during peak rush hours.

“The ladies’ compartment is usually full in the mornings as the one coach is not enough to accommodate all women,” said Malathi Gopalakrishnan, a senior executive in a telecom company. She complained that harassment, including inappropriate touching, was commonplace – and there is nobody one can turn to for help on the train.

The situation becomes worse at night. The ladies’ coach practically turns into a general compartment despite repeated announcements for asking men not to enter or sit on the reserved seats.

“Men complain that women occupy seats in other coaches too and there is no harm in sitting in the ladies' coach if the seats are free. However, the point is that the women’s coach is meant for those who do not feel safe travelling in the company of men, due to bad experiences. We all know the situation is worse in North India,” said Anu Sahai, a housewife who has fought many times with men asking them to leave the reserved compartment.

The guards at the stations express inability to tackle such situations.

“Our duty gets over at 10 p.m. The trains keep running till midnight and there is no way we can ensure that the women’s compartment remains only for them after that time. The other problem is that even if we handle the situation at our station, there is no guarantee that men won't get into the coach between the stations,” said a guard at the busy Rajiv Chowk metro station.

“I have thought of fighting many times. But I am scared that there may be a case where the guy starts to follow me after I get off the train. There is no security on roads too,” said a Delhi University student.

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