Finally, the issue of women’s security in India is getting some attention from the authorities. The gangrape and murder of a 23 year old girl in the national capital Delhi is proving to be an eye opener – a grim reminder of how vulnerable females are in the country, and how public transport is misused to inflict sexual violence upon women.
A committee of secretaries was formed to review women’s security and to propose measures for improving it. The committee was headed by cabinet secretary and specifically focused on safety of women in public transport. In January, the committee made a series of recommendations to improve women’s safety. Apart from installing CCTV cameras and having a guard in the buses, committee also proposed exclusive buses for women in large cities.
Based upon committee’s recommendations Indian government issued a directive to state governments to start women-only buses in all million plus cities. It made it clear that the buses could be on any size depending upon the specific needs of a city and the route. But every million plus city must have some women only buses.
To ensure that the directive is not ignored by state governments, the Union Urban Ministry on Thursday instructed states to share their detailed action plan for starting these women only buses.
Many women’s groups had also made separate demands for women only buses in cities like Noida, Delhi, and Gurgaon. They complained of rampant sexual harassment in the buses.
Some cities in the country such as Delhi and Kanpur have already started female only buses. If the states listen to the center, many more cities will soon offer exclusive buses to women. And while exclusive buses alone won’t be sufficient to eradicate sexual violence against women, they will certainly help women feel safer in maddening cities.
While Delhi revived its women special buses in November, similar services were started in Kanpur. The North-Western Karnataka Road Transport Corporation has also announced bus services for women and families between Hubli-Dharwad and Belgaum.