Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Women Commuters Cheer for Segregation in the Buses

Most Hyderabadi to women have an experience or two to share when they commute in city buses. Some carry Swiss knives, some pepper sprays and some use umbrellas to keep pesky men at bay. This sense of insecurity may become a thing of past, if the pilot run of TSRTC succeeds. On the first day of the trial run with the partial partitions installed on a bus plying between Secunderabad and Afzal gunj, women reclaimed their space. The fourth seat from the front has a sheet of fiberglass behind it, the aisle is not blocked. But this demarcation seems to be more than enough as men did not cross the line as they usually do. The women appeared happy with the arrangement on bus no 8A. 

All about mental comfort 

Lavanya, a girl in her 20s was travelling to her office in Afzalgunj and seemed happy that now she can sit comfortably without men crowding the women's area. "I am a regular commuter. A couple of days ago it was over-crowded," she said. Pointing to the crowded men's section she added, "Complete partition may create problems for the conductor to move. But it's a real relief. Some men actually stand so close that you feel uncomfortable and if you ask them to move aside they throw a fit. It's so irritating at times." 

In the offing 

At present, only one bus with partition is plying via route 8A. RTC officials say more number of buses will be introduced with the partition. Aparna Kalyani, an RTC official at Ranigunj shares that because of the long festive season there's slight delay in bringing all the buses on the road. "By October 8, seven more buses will be plying this route. For other routes, talks are going on." 

The bus has seats for handicapped and senior citizens as usual near the main entrance. We spoke to the conductor Surya who also felt different. He shared, "Many times women would call me to complain about certain male passengers who would stand too close to them. Am glad it will not happen now." Saying this, he went over to the male section, asking the standing men not to come inside the women's section. 

Mixed reactions 

But here also there is a difference of opinion. Garima Rao, a student at Koti Women's College, travelling in the bus told us, "It's good to see such initiatives but when the bus gets overcrowded will these people not come to this section? Why can't there be a rule that a certain number of passengers can only board the bus! And if anything of that sort is there why it's not implemented?" Men argued that making women feel uncomfortable by getting closer to their seats is sometimes not their choice. Ahmed Fazal, who boarded the bus from Moazzam Jahi Market said, "What if the bus halts all of a sudden? Do we not kind of fall forward? Does it not happen to women? I agree that some men do it deliberately. Good this partition thing has come up." 

The 30-minute journey from Secunderabad to Afzalgunj came to an end with many women walking away with a smile.

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