On board the bus for a just cause

On board the bus for a just cause

Dancing to the tunes of ‘Tune maari entry yaar’ and other foot-tapping numbers from latest Bollywood movies, the flash mob-cum-street act at the Jantar Mantar protest site managed to address the issue of women security in public transport, guised in a very entertaining style.

On March 8, the International Women’s Day if you happened to stroll around the wide and ever-busy streets of Connaught Place, you would have spotted two orange public buses filled with women, cheering, flashing cameras and clicking photos, doing the rounds.

Collaborating with Delhi Integrated Multi-Model Transit System, Breakthrough’s ‘Board the Bus’ campaign motivated women to board a bus and endorse the need for safe public transportation by sharing their experiences. 

A recent survey by the travel portal Tripadvisor stated that Delhi is the most unsafe city in the country, tagged notorious the second time over by women travellers, with a whopping 95 per cent of the respondents endorsing this opinion. Metrolife gauged the experiences of women who slog it out in the Capital, day in and day out.

Recounting her college days, social entrepreneur Palak Sharma says, “Ever since I came to study here and then settled for work, I have been cautious enough to take only public transport against the privately-owned ones.

Owing to incidences like the December 16 gang rape, people in the family keep a tab on my movement, ask me to keep 100 on my phone’s alert mode, and send them the number of the autorickshaw that I travel by.”

But she adds, “You cannot live in constant fear, there’s always a way to be ready against adversities. For instance, the Metro seems a safer option, you can compute the time it usually takes you to reach a destination. I wish they were running for longer hours though, just like the Mumbai locals that click to life as early as 4 in the morning after shutting down at 1 am.” 

Lucie Perez, a French exp­at, says, “When you get used to this way of life, where people constantly gaze at you, make you uncomfortable, things start seeming to feel normal. It happens to me,” she comments ruefully about the scenario. “But the mirage loses its existence as soon as you go out of India.

Now, I have just returned from a trip to Japan, which has a very woman-friendly vibe to it. So, it’s taking time again to settle back into my routine here. The best I can do is totally avoid public transport, now that I can afford to, and only depend upon taxis. Even that goes against my ethos, as I like to travel by public transport, even when I am back in Paris, for environmental reasons.” 

Given that untoward incidents against women have been increasing over the years in the Capital, Breakthrough’s vice president, Sonali Khan emphasised the need for the fair sex to come out and make a point.

“We wanted women, who rarely travel by a DTC bus, to join the ranks of those that do to reclaim their space with confidence while inviting more women to do the same.

We also encouraged women who participated to board, click and post – Board the bus, click pictures of their journey and post their experience to inspire others to follow suit. The bigger goal is to make buses safer for women by inspiring women to bring about the change themselves.” 

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