Yesterday, this paper carried a report about cops who are on the hunt for a man who harassed a woman inside the city’s newest public transport arm, the Metro. According to the victim, a Mulund resident, a man kept staring at her all the way from Ghatkopar to D N Nagar station, making her extremely uncomfortable. She lodged a complaint and the police were looking for the man on the basis of her complaint, with the help of a sketch.
In the report, there are women who have spoken out about how men take advantage of a crowd to touch women inappropriately or stare at them or make gestures.
The Mumbai Metro needs a separate compartment or at least a demarcated half compartment for women. Just like our local trains have compartments reserved for women, so should this arm of public transport. Though the platforms are crowded, women must feel they are in a safe space, once inside the metro itself.
While the facility may have alarms and other avenues through which women can complain, harassment often falls in a very grey area. If a man stares at a woman, some people may not agree it amounts to harassment; the man may wriggle out saying that he had not been staring at her but merely looking ahead. Even with CCTV cameras in the Metro, these things become very difficult to prove.
One must not wait for women to complain to make a separate compartment for women. This should have been thought of and demarcated at inception itself, like most public transport facilities have. Because of the crowds and sheer numbers in the city, it makes sense to have a separate compartment for women. A majority of harassment cases take place at crowded public venues. Even BEST buses demarcated special seats for women and actually increased that number, in part to tackle the harassment problem. It is time the metro seriously thought of and acted upon a separate space for women.
Though a majority of women may be feeling safe and it would be unfair to make sweeping generalisations, a compartment for women makes sense in the current scenario.