This one incident that took place with me at a Metro Station has been with me forever and still horrifies me. I was coming back home from my school after writing a Pre-Boards examination. I took the metro, as usual, from the Vaishali Metro Station. It is one massive place. Some parts of it are crowded whereas others are quiet. I took the latter one to avoid the crowd as usual. As I was taking the stairs, I saw this man staring at me. There was no other person on that floor. I saw the man shaking his hand too and as I walked closer to him to reach the next floor, I saw him walking towards me while he was masturbating. I ran away from him and I took the stairs hurriedly. Thank god that I found two Police Officers on the next floor. I told them what all the person did and boarded the metro as soon as I could.
Introduced in 2002, the metro in Delhi is something which gives the city’s people convenience and easy access to far-away places. Undoubtedly, Delhi Metro has taken a lot of burden from the city’s roads when it comes to managing traffic. More often than not, women have also been hearing good things from people around them about the metro, including something like, “It is the safest option for you as a woman”. But really, is it?
“The first coach in the moving direction is reserved for ladies”, is what we hear every time we board a metro. This means that every metro has a special coach which is meant for women only, for their concerns for safety. Last year too, the Delhi government passed a demand to allocate funds to make travel free for women in public transport, including metros and busses.
“The other day when I was going to college by metro, something very strange, yet humiliating happened. I boarded my second metro from Rajiv Chawk which obviously was very crowded. Nothing unusual, I boarded the metro. I was wearing a skirt and after 3-4 stations passed, I felt something moving down my leg. I couldn’t see it properly since the metro was crowded. I got off at my station and saw it there on my leg. It was semen, somebody really did masturbate on me. And I got worse when I couldn’t recall when it happened. It could have happened at Rajiv Chawk or while I was waiting for the second metro. The same person could be there with me in my metro, but I wouldn’t know. It was very humiliating,” recalled a girl from Delhi University. Cases like these happen a lot. Women are harassed and abused while they travel in metros and the crowd makes it worse because you cannot really make out who did it to you, did it really happen or was it just because there is literally no space in the metro? Thus the question, can by making their travel free, the government ensures women’s safety? It seems highly unlikely!
“It happens to me all the time. What time is it or what line am I in, it does not matter. You would be standing with several men surrounding you. Somebody would touch your bottoms, another would deliberately try to fall on you while the other one would be touching your buttocks with their crotch. One time this guy was actually trying to touch me between my thighs again and again. He wouldn’t stop, I smacked his hand each time but he still wouldn’t stop. The worst part is when you realize that amidst the crowd, you cannot find out which person it was. What if I blame the wrong person? What if it is just the crowd and nobody did it intentionally? How do I prove it that somebody really did touch me inappropriately and it humiliated me?”.
Another part of the problem comes when you share such incidents with people and they start blaming the victim itself. “Why didn’t you take the ladies coach”, as they say, they miss the fact that sometimes the ladies coach itself is very crowded. When all women prefer one coach over the others, it is bound to be more crowded than the others. Whereas sometimes, you are just too late to run to the farthest ladies coach and you board the first coach you see. Besides everything, can a woman not board a general coach and expect not to be harassed? Can she never travel in it without being taught the lesson that you are safe in a women’s coach and women’s coach alone? Perhaps we people are not decent enough to let you go and not harass you?
Being public transport, having excellent accessibility, and being an eco-friendly choice, Delhi Metro sure is the best option sometimes. Every popular part of the city can be reached within minutes and you would not have to face all the head aching traffic jams. But these cases of harassment and abuse make women unsure about it. And just like that, like everything in the world, it becomes a menace to women, while the whole world benefits from it.
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