Hurdles on the way

Hurdles on the way
There has been a steady increase in the patronage of ‘Namma Metro’ ever since its inception and with the expansion works gathering steam, the trend is only upwards. And as more and more passengers are squeezing themselves into the small cramped compartments, reports have surfaced about some female passengers experiencing unsavoury episodes, sometimes even harassment. All of this has led to a rising demand for women-only coaches in the Metro trains.

“I am a frequent traveller in the Metro trains and ever since the line was expanded till Mysuru Road, the rides are anything but smooth,” says Shweta Sharma, a professional. “It’s not the crowd or the rush; these are understandable and everyone should be willing to adjust. But some male travellers use the crowd as an excuse to push females or stand too close to them. I have had people brush against me and lean on me; you know what they are doing but you can’t say anything because they will use the excuse of it being too crowded,” she rues.

Sulekha Nazruddin, a travel agency owner, agrees. “There is no question of not feeling safe but during peak hours and at major stations, there is a lot of pushing and hustling to get into the train. And once inside, women have to rush to the corners to find a secure spot to stand, since sitting is out of the question. But the women who are caught in the middle have a tough time. Sometimes men find a pretext to fall on them when the train brakes even slightly or rub against them, citing lack of space. If any lady raises her voice, they ask her to get off if she is so uncomfortable,” she says.

While the Delhi Metro has separate compartments for ladies, the first Bengaluru Metro train with a coach exclusively for women will not roll out before January 2018. But while there is a growing clamour for separate coaches, some people are of the opinion that segregating passengers based on gender is just taking the easy way out.

“I am all for a ladies-only coach in the Metro but at the end of the day, would that solve the problem they face on the streets, on the pavements, in malls?” questions Solaman Cleetus, a professional. “The authorities should come up with a stringent plan to deter eve-teasers. Women should also speak up when they encounter a problem and not be worried about creating a scene.”

He goes on to add, “Even if they add 1-2 separate coaches for women in the Metro, not all female passengers can fit into these. So how can we ensure the safety of those who have no option but to travel in the general coaches? But if it’s a quick-fix solution that we are looking at, then a separate coach makes sense.”

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