Let’s add another city to the list of places where a study shows harassment on public transportation is a big problem, shall we? It’s Islamabad, Pakistan.
The Social Research and Development Organisation (SRDO) surveyed 75 women commuters in Islamabad, aged 19 to 45, to find out more about women’s experiences with sexual harassment during their commute, particularly on “public transport wagons and buses.”
In the survey, the women “disclosed that inappropriate touching, making sexual comments and staring by male passengers is overwhelmingly rife. The respondents, however, made it clear that the incidents of harassment are far lesser in rickshaws and taxis.”
“Farhana Hussain, a women rights activist, said, ‘We should not see the issue, harassment of women in public transport, in isolation as it is an open fact that harassment and violence against women inside four walls and on the streets is just one feature of our male dominated structure that always put blame on victims instead of helping them.’
She said successive governments have taken very positive steps and introduced specific legislation to curb violence and harassment against women in houses, at workplace and in public transport, but its implementation mechanism has made it difficult to provide any relief. A large majority of respondents, 59 per cent, informed that insufficient space for women passengers in buses and wagons is a major problem for them.
A nineteen-year girl student told the survey team that due to repeated incidents of harassment at the bus, she and her friend have started commuting in rickshaw. ‘Though travelling in rickshaw is quite expensive for us, we feel quite secure in it,’ she said, adding, ‘In my opinion the government should introduce women-only buses in big cities to tackle the issue of harassment of women passengers. ”
Women-only public transportation can provide much needed relief for women facing frequent harassment, but it doesn’t challenge or end the harassment! The harassment continues elsewhere. For example, in a recent study of more than 200 youth in Gujranwala, Pakistan, 96 percent of the girls experienced street harassment. So, do we need women-only streets, too?! No, we need comprehensive and multi-layered action to address and end the pervasiveness of public harassment.Share on Facebook