Are Women-Only Buses the Answer to Harassment?
When looking for new topics to talk about for Leadfoot Ladies, I stumbled across the story of a new women-only bus service in India running between the cities of Coimbatore and Chennai. Coach bus operator Parveen Travels has arranged the special route for ladies and the buses are not just estrogen-only, but also loaded with security cameras and a GPS tracker, all for the sake of keeping women safe. This service was launched by the company after the success of its women-only route from Madurai and Chennai. However, are routes like this really the answer to violence against women on the road?
In case you were not aware, India is not really the safest place to be a woman. Several news sources, including Daily Beast, have declared the country to be in a gang rape crisis, where women are regularly attacked and sometimes killed (one in 2016 was set on fire). One of the most notorious cases of gang rape in recent years occurred when a college student named Nirbhaya was assaulted and murdered on a bus. A majority of rapes in India are estimated to go unreported, and even those that are reported usually go unprosecuted.
Separating women from men on a bus sounds more like a short-term answer to a long-term problem. India’s caste system places women lower than men, which causes some men to feel as if they can do whatever they want to women because it is their right. Instead of forcing women to schedule their lives around this special ladies-only route, perhaps India’s government needs to address the culture it has created that allows men to rape without any fear of repercussion. The world’s eyes are watching and if the country wishes to move forward in its development, foreign powers need to know that their female leaders and professionals will be safe doing business with this nation.
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