Of the 70 lakh daily suburban commuters, about 12 lakh are women. Yet many of them feel alone and abandoned, especially when their safety is in peril. Now, the special women’s squads of Railway Protection Force (RPF) are propagating the age-old adage, ‘Strength in numbers’ among female travellers to help them feel and stay secure. This is one among many tips being disseminated as part of an awareness campaign started by RPF in Western Railway (WR).
“It wasn’t easy to launch this drive, as we weren’t sure initially what the central message should be and how to go about circulating it. Finally, we decided on forming a team of women, who can mingle and connect comfortably with female passengers,” informed a senior RPF official from WR. The campaign commenced on January 15 with a squad of five female security personnel – four constables and a senior inspector.
According to the team, the first few days were anything but a walk in the park. However, slowly and steadily they managed to draw attention and win the confidence of female passengers. “Initially they paid no heed to us, believing this to be just another campaign.
But when we started asking them to remove their earphones and listen to what we had to say for the sake of their own safety, they responded sincerely,” said a member of Surakshini squad. The group has of late started taking feedback from female commuters about their expectations and suggestions. Till date they have collected over 1,500 responses and educated more than 35,000 women about their role and safety during emergencies.
Rajendra Rupnawar, senior divisional security commissioner, RPF (WR), said, “This is good news for us, as we are getting amazing response from female passengers. We urge commuters to inform us about their grievances on our helpline number. We have instructed our personnel to attend to such complaints promptly.”
Have a safe trip
Some of the steps that RPF teams are asking women to adhere to:
>> During late night travel, sit with fellow passengers instead of parking yourself alone in a corner.
>> It is advisable to board the ladies’ coach adjacent to the guard’s cabin.
>> If the train is largely empty, make it a habit to sit facing the door so you can observe people getting in and out, and their activities.
>> In case of emergencies call RPF helpline 1311, or 100.
>> If a fellow passenger is mistreated, don’t just sit there. Unite and confront the culprit.
Approx no of women who travel on WR’s network on any given day