Women's safety needs much more than social media activism and a mention in election manifestoes. It needs thorough, constant and aggressive implementation at the grass root level. Keeping the safety of all its women passengers in mind, senior DCM of Waltair Division has issued directions on sensitising ground staff on the steps to be taken in case of any complaint involving harassment and misbehaviour with the female passengers.
The orders issued to all commercial inspectors and all chief ticket checking staff says, "As per safety measures for female passengers, all the ticket checking staff in amenity/squad/station are advised that on receipt of complaint of any kind of harassment and mis-behaviour with the female passenger during the journey, inform the Commercial Control/WAT Division immediately, so that the RPF and GRP control can be informed in time and the presence of the same can be ensured on the spot." It further said that in case if any unresolved problem, the case should be immediately forwarded to Divisional Commercial Manager/Assistant Commercial Manager.
What emboldens the harassers
Lot of social media users took to the news with applause and expectations. Hoping that measures actually translated to goons and evil elements being discouraged. Many hoped that the circular was replicated in other divisions of the railway.
Hundreds of cases of harassment at public places go unreported because of lack of awareness on how to take the complaint further. Also, there is societal discouragement on reporting such incidents. With the first and often only reaction of the victim being to avoid/escape the scene and brush things under the carpet. As a result, instead of being discouraged, harassers feel emboldened.
Last year in June, Indian Railways adopted a slew of initiatives for women's safety, including two teams of Lady RPF personnel being deployed at stations at platform circulating area. Each team comprises one lady Sub Inspector and 8 Lady Constables. All night running suburban train services are escorted by GRP/Home guard personnel for ensuring safety and security of lady passengers between 21.00 hrs to 6.00 hrs. In 2021 (upto 31st May) a total of 191 cases were registered under Railway Act against male passengers for travelling in ladies' coaches.
Maximum eve-teasing incidents during daily commute
In 2017, Haryana Police conducted its first ever survey on eve-teasing, wherein a total of 28,539 people from all over the state participated. It found that the maximum number of such incidents occur when females travel to and from schools, colleges and offices. Among the respondents, 40 per cent were females of 14 years and above.