I want to be free to go where I want and when I want, wear what I want without any fear.
Ask a man what he wants from public transport, his answer would probably be efficiency. Ask a women the same question, her only answer would be safety.
Women, as compared to men, are frequent users of public transport. However, using public transport has become a nightmare for women of all ages. Whether there is a a school girl or a working lady, everyone has faced harassment of some sort while travelling. One doesn’t have to look far to understand the frequency of such occurrences, just ask any woman of your household. Every single day such incidents happen but how often do we raise our voices? Even if some poor lady does muster up the courage to say something, she is looked down upon. Usually, the tables are swiftly turned and the accuser becomes the accused!
Being a girl who frequently uses public transport, I can very well relate to the settings. What is shameful is that even though we educate our girls and teach them to be independent, we never encourage them to raise their voices when such incidents happen. I remember the first time I had to face eve teasing in its ugly form. When I complained to my mother who was sitting adjacent to me, she just asked me to switch seats with her. She didn’t say anything to the harasser. When I asked her about it later at home, her response was, Shush…you shouldn’t say anything, people will think it is your fault. Just change your seat or move away from the guy. In the coming years, this would stick with me. Every time something like this happens, I am reminded of my mothers warning. Not only me, it is the story of every girl.
The governments initiative of reserving seats for women in public transport is a total sham. There is no effort on part of the government to make transporters adhere to the rule. Also, how hypocritical is it on part of the elders of our society to turn a blind eye towards this menace. These elders, who preach about girls and their loose morals, shy away from even acknowledging this blatant abuse. Yet, if they were to be believed, even the floods of last year were caused by women!
We are often made to believe right from the beginning that somehow being harassed is our fault. Really? Our fault? No, being a woman isn’t shameful, beingharassed isn’t our fault. Our only fault is that we are too timid to speak up, raiseour voices against this evil.
No one is going to do anything about it unless we confront it head on. It is high time that we demand the respect we deserve, be itin a bus or anywhere else.
Melinda Gates says, A woman with a voice is by definition a strong woman but the search to find that voice can be remarkably difficult. It is time we found that voice, gathered up courage and fought this evil together. It is time we stopped being the victim. It is time for change.
Student of MERC
University of Kashmir
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