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Dhaka Tribune

Improving public transport is the answer

Update : 23 Dec 2016, 06:10 PM

Commuting in the city can be a nightmarish experience for women, especially those who rely on public transport.

A recent study reveals that a whopping 84% of women have experienced sexual harassment in the process of using public transport in Bangladesh.

Why can we not make the city safer for women to move around it?

No society can call itself developed unless and until it creates a safe environment for women to move around on their own, and, unfortunately, Bangladesh is failing in this regard.

The solution is to fix up our public transport system.

A good first step would be to make improvements to our bus services, as buses are where most incidences of harassment take place. Then the authorities must enforce stringent regulations.

Women-only buses can give women the option of commuting with a feeling of safety. However, it is not enough that these provisions are made, they must be enforced.

Increasing the number of buses would reduce the pressure on each individual bus, thereby reducing the crowding that causes assaulters to take advantage.

Many perpetrators of sexual assault or harassment on public transport take advantage of the shabby conditions and overcrowding -- the problem would be alleviated if there was better regulation.

Finally, violators must be dealt with. Too often, people who assault or harass others get away with it. The culture of impunity must end.

In developed nations of the world, women travel on buses and trains at all hours of the day and night with significantly more freedom and less fear than they do in Bangladesh.

That is because there is proper infrastructure, monitoring, and a well-functioning legal system that takes assault and harassment claims seriously.

Aiming for that kind of higher standard in our public transportation is not just a noble goal, it is a matter of the greatest urgency.

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