BMTC starts martial arts training for women staff

BMTC starts martial arts training for women staff

A 32-day self-defence programme, planned under a scheme named after Nirbhaya, had taken a back seat because of the pandemic

The women employees are being trained at the BMTC central office in Shanti Nagar. BMTC has 3,000 women employees and many work as conductors and security personnel. DH Photo by Pushkar V

The Bengaluru Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) has started training its women staff in karate and judo.

“We couldn’t start the training sessions last year because of the pandemic, but we are now training about 50 women employees,” a BMTC representative told Metrolife.

The training began earlier this month, under trainers from Jaguar Sports Academy. Once the entire session is completed, the women will return to their depots and train other female staff.

BMTC has 3,000 women employees and many work as conductors and security personnel. The 32-day long self-defence training programme was launched under the Nirbhaya scheme, under which the government grants funds for women’s safety. The sessions include practical and theoretical training.

The daily training, from 10.30 am to 5 pm, is divided into two parts, and the sessions are conducted at the BMTC central office, Shanti Nagar.

During the first half of the day, the staff get practical training in judo, karate and other martial arts.

In the second half, they attend classes on gender sensitisation, law and public speaking.

“I have been attending the sessions for a while now and I have learnt a lot. The sessions are helpful because we often have to deal with rude and inappropriate behaviour,” says an official from the BMTC complaints department.

“Just recently, I had to deal with a drunk commuter who had come in to lodge a complaint,” she says. 

When commuters create problems, male colleagues come to the rescue, says Priya (name changed), conductor. “Often there are many drunk passengers and cheap men who think they can take advantage of us because we are women. There are also instances when the passengers fight among themselves. We should know how to defend ourselves and resolve a situation,” she says. 

A woman conductor working in BMTC for 23 years has seen the behaviour of her male colleagues improve over the years.

“Back when I first started as a conductor, we had to deal with more inappropriate behaviour from our male colleagues rather than from the public. It was horrible, and I wanted to quit because of this. But things have changed now, and we are treated with some respect,” she says. 

Toilets please

While the women staff are appreciative of the efforts made by the BMTC to empower them, they believe more changes need to be put in place to ensure women are treated fairly.  “Because of the pandemic, we work longer hours. It is mostly us women stuck doing long shifts. If we complain, they ask us to quit and stay at home,” says Priya. The lack of proper toilets at the terminals has been a major problem for women employees. “Clean public toilets at all bus stations is one thing women conductors have been requesting for a long time,” she says.

Nirbhaya fund

The Central government has launched various schemes since 2013 under the Nirbhaya fund, designed specifically to improve the safety and security of women. Under the scheme, a combined amount of Rs 1.80 crores has been granted to the BMTC, from the central and state government, for women’s self-defence training.

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