Monday, 20 August 2018
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    Of commuters and public transport harassment…

Homayra Faruque, Staff Reporter, GTV
Of commuters and public transport harassment…

Homayra Faruque, Staff Reporter, GTV

It was back in 2011 when my masters class were being held from 6.30pm to 9.30pm. My father used to pick me up from my campus after my class every day. One day, he got busy, thus, failing to pick me up after my class. However, I thought of handling the situation by making a bus journey home. Duly, one of my friends helped me get a ticket from a bus counter. Afterwards, I started my journey, with the bus being almost deserted of passengers as there were a handful of commuters, including me, there then. After the bus crosses two stops, a bunch of young boys, who looked to be as young as my younger brother, boarded on the bus and sat in the row next to mine. Strangely, they were staring at me, but I played normal front of them so they do not even sense that I was feeling a bit nervous. When I was about to alight off the bus at Malibagh, they too tried to follow.
As I tried to leave my seat and approach towards the gate of the bus, one of the youngsters came to me, pulling my scarf. I looked back and found him holding the scarf tight, which left me shocked and embarrassed. Moreover, they were laughing at me, making me feel insulted. I finally managed to realise that he did it all after betting on the matter with his friends.
I’m pretty sure that they did never think that the victim could have been one of their sisters, or how I actually felt.
Yes, today I’m writing about harassment the women face in public transport. The incident I narrated is nothing usual. Rather this is what almost every female passengers come across while aboard on a public transport.
One such incident happened with a Uattara University student of late. This time around, it was the bus driver and his helpers who tried to abuse the girl. Nevertheless, they were learnt a great lesson what I couldn’t seven years ago.
In Tangail, a girl named Rupa was gang-raped and murderd in a bus few months back. There are several such incidents taking place every day and we can see them very often through social media, especially from the Facebook posts of the victims.
And, of course, how can we forget the face of Rajib who lost his hand in a bus accident? The ill-fated ended up dying a painful death, though. I also cannot forget the face of 19-year-old Rojina. When I was talking to her in the hospital for my report, Rojina was describing how brutally the bus ran away over her leg, making her suffer immensely. Her condition also reduced me to tears. Rojina, too, lost her battle for life after a lot of sufferings.
So nowadays the public transport workers are real villains. From harassment woman to their murder or rape, they are committing crime one after another with no regret. Rapes and deaths in road mishaps have been regular news items in local media outlets. Being a journalist, a human being and sometimes a victim, I really want to know when all these will stop.
I appreciate the government move of opening a nationwide emergency hotline “999”, to help stop woman from being harassed. But may I know what the helpline number is when a bus runs over my leg? Who are going to control these bus drivers? Who will tell them to drive safely? Who will tell them not to ruin someone’s life? It’s high time the political leaders, the decision makers took the issue seriously. As a woman, I would love to enjoy women bus service, with the driver being a female as well.
I would love to see if the bus drivers are professional, minimum educated and careful. When our country owns a satellite, why can’t we get a safe and secure public transport? It’s not that tough compared to what has been done regarding the satellite project. So, the government and the transport owners should take steps to change the scenario. People, suffering in their every day journey, are looking forward to seeing the much expected change.

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