Government Policy

Govt steps necessary to stop female passengers’ hassle

DHAKA, Dec 16, 2016 (BSS) - It was a sunny morning and the hustle-bustle city was taking its usual look. Like other hundreds of city dwellers, she was in hurry and went out of home at around 8:00am and reached nearby Kalabagan bus stand within ten minutes.

But Shakila Suntana, a private job holder, did not know how much sufferings she would face in next one hour.

Over one hundred passengers, mostly male, were waiting there to catch bus. Whenever a bus comes, dozens of people swoop on it and struggle to ride on.

Shakila was trying to join the struggle but was defeating repeatedly by her male counterparts.

Similar things happened for around next 40 minutes. Finally, she could ride on a bus at around 8:45am, but could not get any seat. She travelled her way standing on foot.

She reached her Motijheel office at around 9:30, a 30-minute late than the office schedule.

"Just similar things happen in the way of returning from office. This is not sufferings of single day, I have to endure similar experience almost daily," Shakila was talking to BSS.

Transport crisis is believed to be one of the major causes of sufferings of hundreds of working women.

Around 4,000 buses are currently plying in the capital. But the demand is triple, said transport operators.

Besides, CNG-run auto rickshaws, taxicabs, human haulers are not sufficient. Such scarcity of public transport causes immense sufferings to female passengers including sexual harassment.

"As most of the buses remain jam-packed, I often face sexual harassment by male passengers," said a female student of a private university.

There are only 6 to 7 seats designated for women in bus. But the number of female passengers is double and triple in each bus. In most of the case, they have to keep standing enduring such harassment, said Sabrina Ahmed, a private job holder.

"If I want to travel through CNG-run auto rickshaws, I have to spend huge amount of money daily. My salary does not permit it. So, I have to travel through buses struggling with many difficulties," said Kamrunnahanar, also a service holder.

In such a situation, the state-run Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) has come up with a special service for women.

Almas Ali, Deputy General Manager (Operations) of BRTC said a total of 15 government buses are currently plying for women on different routes.

The routes are Mirpur to Motijheel, Mohammadpur to Motijheel, Rampura to Motijheel, Narayanganj to Motijheel and Savar to Motijheel.

"We will increase the number of buses if the demand increases," he told the correspondent.

Kazi Md. Shifun Newaz, assistant professor of Accident Research Institute (ARI) of BUET, said the government should make mandatory all the bus companies to keep at five percent of their total buses designated for women.

For example, at least one bus in each of the 20 buses must be designated for women and the government should be keep vigil to ensure implementation of it.

Eminent women rights activists Khushi Kabir emphasized on conducting massive campaign for raising public awareness to ensure women safety in public transport sector.

"Drivers and conductors must be trained up on how to behave with female passengers," she viewed.

Besides, special bus for women must be available in all routes, Kabir demanded.

Khandaker Enayet Ullah, general Secretary of Dhaka Road Transport Owners Association, said, "We have already issued directive to all the bus owners to keep few seats always designated for women in each buses."

But male passengers in many cases don't behave in responsible manner. They occupy the seats, which are designated for women, and create trouble, he said. Enayet also demanded for formulation of a law with a provision to punish the male passengers, who will occupy female seats.

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)