Every Bus Ride is Like a War: Delhi Women on Safety Aboard Buses
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.
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?
‘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.
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.
Is the Delhi Govt Listening?
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.