BY U4Uvoice Team
It was that moment of utter self-consciousness, he kept staring and I kept checking if my dupatta was in the right place, if my skirt was too short or if I wore a wrong dress all together; he just kept staring with those hungry eyes while I felt so unplaced that I just wanted to run and hide somewhere safe, where I’m not humiliated and undressed with eyes, and lusted upon.
Similar feelings of unrest and insecurity are encountered by many women and girls while they travel on that bus in the morning for going to school, college or their work place. Sure there are laws now to help and protect women from harassment, eve teasing and heinous of all, rapes. But how much has it changed? Travel on a bus and not a day passes by that there would be no single comment, an unwanted advance or an inappropriate contact by men who become more adventurous in a crowded place and don’t forget to take full advantage of it.
Whether it is a matador operator or a male commuter travelling in these buses, women say they feel unsafe, and insecure as lecherous eyes, and prying hands of men are always there in search of the prey. The school and college going girls in particular face harassment because the matadors are packed to the brim during the peak hours giving an advantage to the molesters. The problem becomes more acute during the evening hours, and women find it difficult to use public transport as they feel unsafe going out.
“I have rarely travelled in a matador or any other public transport since my marriage as my husband is reluctant and concerned about my safety in those over filled buses” says Garima, a working woman who prefers to use her own vehicle than to risk her safety in public transport.
In the crime data of 2011, a total of 389 rape cases were registered. Only 17 of these resulted in the conviction of the accused. There were 1419 molestation cases under investigation during the same year but only 47 ended in convictions. There 412 cases of eve teasing which were registered but there was conviction only in 47.
In the year 2013, a total 376 rape cases were registered, whereas 114 cases were already being investigated which brought the total to 490. Cases of molestation numbered 1380, while eve teasing cases that were registered numbered 354.
And these are just the recorded facts, a number of times policemen are told about what is happening but they prefer to keep quiet, and let things pass is the general refrain keeping many incidents off the record and many such disgusting stories of pain and torment untold and behind the curtains. The busy places in the city where there is student population is large sees maximum cases of eve teasing such as Kachi Chhawni, Parade, Mubarak Mandi, Panjthirthi, Rehari, Sanjay Nagar, Last Morh, Main Stop, and Satwari Chowk. The girls say there is a need of having more female cops at busy chowks, mini-bus stops and areas which are prone to such kind of crimes.
The number of female cops, however, is quite low, and there are only two all women police stations in the state besides only 4 women cells. With the elections coming, the police would be busy in poll duties, thus leaving behind less security men to man the roads, and streets which does not augur well for the women in the city of temples.