No country for a free woman

Aug 20, 2013, 07:17 IST | MiD DAY Correspondent

On Independence Day, the government pledged to make women safer. Three days later, yet another assault on a woman, an American, in the first class of a Borivli local exposed the empty oath, while the railway authorities and the GRP skimmed rulebooks to divide accountability

Women comprise a third of the 75 lakh daily commuters in the metropolitan. Sunday’s attack has resurrected the outrage they feel, specially after a slew of sickly assaults. 

Last week, a pervert was masturbating while strutting at the ladies compartment. In August, three young men threatened a middle-aged woman with a weapon in a first-class coach. The gruesome acid attack at Bandra Terminus which killed Preeti Rathi has her family knocking all possible doors for justice, while the animal who burned her to death is on the run.

Until June, sexual assault figured had crossed 250 cases, and these are just those that are reported, which is a rarity. With only knee-jerk reactions, women’s safety remains a delusion. The first-class compartments, meant for comfort travel at least during non-rush hours, are easy targets. So women opt to travel in second-class or general compartments during odd hours, counting on the safety in numbers – another delusion.

There are 129 women constables for female commuters in the GRP’s 3,500–strong army. GRP gripes about a skeletal force, yet recruitment seems perpetually in progress. Though it claims it stations a constable inside ladies compartments at night, commuters are yet to see them regularly. The idea to shift women commuters to the ends of a local during odd hours is gathering dust.

When women are contributing as much as they are toward national growth, the establishment should match their efforts to make their environs secure and comfortable. More than that, it is you and I who must reinstate the lost confidence of womenfolk in the man on the street, or the local.  

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