An average Mumbaikar spends 2 hours commuting on a daily basis. We are lucky to have a robust local train network that connects the city from one end to another but how long will we be able to sustain considering the number of commuters increase by more than 10 folds and the trains don’t. Those familiar faces you see every morning comfort you. The pace at which you jump into a moving train and the skill of making your way out in one piece with all your belongings, is an art. Women is this city have somehow made peace with this chaos but the situation is getting more suffocating and unsafe with every passing month.
For a woman who leaves her house at 7 AM and returns after almost 12 hours in the evening, security in local trains is not a trivial issue. Maybe you are lucky enough to have never encountered an unpleasant incident but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. We need collective strength to fight this nuisance.
The government is making an attempt to make train commutes safe by allocating a police constable in the ladies compartment during late-night trains but is this enough? Most of the cameras installed are damaged and have received a lukewarm response from the commuters.
The number of sexual harassment and eve teasing cases have almost doubled. I am not saying that the authorities are not trying but we need some practical measures urgently. The gap between the crime and reporting is so long that most of the cases are never solved.
We asked the women of Mumbai for suggestions with respect to making train commute safe and convenient, here are a few interesting ideas that could be explored at the earliest.
- More space: The authorities should increase the frequency of ladies special trains during peak hours, or increase the number of ladies compartments. When women represent 50 % of the vibe of this city, why not give them equality in terms of their daily commute? We definitely need more space on the harbour and central line trains.
- Involve women to drive initiatives: Involve women in your initiatives and safety drives. Most of the initiatives introduced by the Railway Protection Force (RPF) and Government Railway Police Force (GRPF) go unnoticed due to lack of involvement from women. The more women talk and discuss about the security helplines and safety measures, the more natural it will seem to them at the time of panic.
- Use of intellegent technology: We have conveniently moved to the digital world. Everything has a GPS and App function. Use of intelligent technology in the form of quick safety alert features, location alert, and free WiFi in the local trains is an effective way of reaching out to the officials. Official apps introduced in the past are not very functional. Also, poor connectivity and lack of WiFi in the compartments makes them very difficult to navigate quickly.
Current efforts made by the authorities are in the right direction but they need to reach out to the right people with the correct context to make a difference. Mumbai has given me a lot of strength of character and that gives me the confidence to raise my voice on behalf of women who’s issues need to be addressed on priority. We are ready to work with the government to make a difference.