The first coach is now reserved for women
Sonal Matharu | November 27, 2010
I was struggling to make space between two seats in an overcrowded ladies compartment of the Delhi Metro for a little girl to sit when my phone beeped. It was my mother. The message said: Women are beating men in the ladies compartment of the Guragon-bound train. They are showing this on TV. Policewomen are making them do sit-ups. The text was followed by a smiley. My mother hardly travels by the metro but hears at least one metro tale a day from her two daughters.
Allotment of the first coach of every train, since October, was a reason to celebrate for many women who are frequent metro travellers. The extreme step taken by women on Thursday in the Gurgaon-bound train was, perhaps, waiting to happen. It doesn't surprise me.
Daily on the way back from work my two female colleagues and I inform, educate, order and, if nothing else works, argue with the men in the ladies coach to move back in the other three compartments of the train. It is a routine. Some other women join us, some get embarrassed while some argue that since other men are also standing there why shouldn't their friends?
Let's get some facts straight.
First, it is not seats that women fight for. And it is not only the seats this compartment is reserved for. During peak hours, men and even some women break the queue, easily push a few, shove their elbows in and get inside the train. Those willing to wait for the next train may have to wait for more than an hour at the platform to get inside one, unhurt. Though women too follow the same tactics to grab a seat in the ladies coach, it is not as bad as a general coach.
Let us not even start on eve-teasing.
Since now the ladies have one exclusive coach, they dare not enter the general coach, so say the men. No, no man will offer you any of the seats still reserved for ladies in the other three coaches. You women have no right over it now. Get lost! We, the men of Delhi city make the rules and not DMRC. And if you do not go to your coach, we will laugh and stare at you till you get embarrassed and leave on your own. Of course, you are a woman so you will not raise your voice or call DMRC, right?
All men who are just old enough to flash a streak of grey hair, injured, tired, with extra luggage or accompanying women feel it is their birthright to travel in the ladies coach. They do not listen if they are told they are flouting a rule, they argue, abuse and mock the women - including women in uniform.
"You have a seat, why do you still have a problem?" does not shut every woman up.
Bright pink stickers on platforms, markings inside the train, announcements inside and outside trains, security guards, warnings - nothing works. Would beating these men work? Perhaps, a few would think twice before entering the ladies coach now, but bashing men cannot be the order of the day.
What can be done?
DMRC must be stringent with issuing fines and not let even a single man inside the ladies coach go out without one. Fine women who bring men along in the ladies coach. Have at least one security guard in the ladies coach of all trains. Well, if things still remain the same, get these men diagnosed for behavioural disorders.