Every Bus Journey Is Like War: Delhi Women on Safety Aboard Buses

Every Bus Journey Is Like War: Delhi Women on Safety Aboard Buses

NEON

Camera: Shivkumar Maurya
Video Editor: Deepthi Ramdas

What is the point of a strong network of public transport across a city – whether it’s buses, autos or metros? To ensure a comfortable, well-connected and safe travel for everyone. As of June 2017, Delhi had 1,612 DTC buses and a number of other private bus services. Of the 32 lakh daily commuters, safety for women on the bus is in question.

Thousands of women take crowded buses to work and college on a daily basis and many have faced harassment on board. Very recently, a student from Kamala Nehru College wrote to The Quint about the infamous 544 route which is a ‘safe haven’ for harassers.

“I have to take the 544 Bus Route, which is a goldmine for molesters since it carries so many young female passengers on their way to college.”

Also Read : Dear CM, I’ve Been Molested on 544 Bus Route Multiple Times

After the Nirbhaya case in 2012, Delhi government promised a host of measures to make daily travel safe for women including mandatory marshal duties on all DTC buses, working CCTV cameras, GPS tracker for all DTC buses and a panic button.

Quint Neon spoke to Delhi women about the state of DTC buses six years after the Nirbhaya case.

Marshal Is as Good as ‘Mr India’

I asked women and conductors of various buses if there was a marshal on board. Most women said that they have ‘almost never’ seen a marshal on any DTC bus. According to a report from January 2017, Delhi government said they had deployed a ‘sufficient’ number of marshals on DTC buses. Close to 3,000 marshals were deployed to prevent crimes against women in DTC buses. So, where are they now?

What is the point of marshals just coming in for the evening routes? Women aboard 544 and several other routes have written extensively about the harassment they face during the day. Why is the government not listening? 

‘Every Bus Journey Is like War’

I spoke to a number of women about what their daily bus journey is like. While some said they have not faced any form of harassment aboard a bus “just yet”, some said they have even hit men when they misbehaved.

“Men stand in a weird manner and pass lewd comments and everyone else watches in silence.”
“When I raised an alarm about a man who was misbehaving with me, no one came forward to help till I dragged him out of the bus and took action myself.”

The culture of not standing up against men on the bus seems to have become the norm in Delhi. I also spoke to a few men who take the bus on regular basis about whether they will take a stand against a harasser on board.

“We can call him out but we won’t go all out. The person might attack us if he is enraged.”
“Women must also take the Delhi Metro and not an overcrowded bus if they feel uncomfortable.”
“It’s untrue that no one comes forward to help. If a woman speaks up, everyone will stand up to help her.”

Is the Delhi Govt Listening?

“What happened with Nirbhaya will repeat itself, I can guarantee it.”  

The only time the Delhi government lends a year to these women is on Women’s Day. Like early this year in March, 2018, the Delhi government gave the ‘gift’ of panic safety alarms. But there is a need for review.

The government routinely promises a slew of measures but implementation remains a challenge.

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