Statesman News Service
KOLKATA, June 19: Kolkata is no longer the safest Indian city for women. Women nowadays refuse to tolerate any kind of harassment in the public transport. They may not come forward to lodge a complain with the police but it is the most-widely discussed topic in all-women conversations.
Public buses have long been the venue for assaulters. Women, irrespective of age and class, fall prey to verbal as well as physical assault on a daily basis.
A woman aged 30 years, who refused to name herself, said: “I was travelling in a crowded bus and a middle-aged man was intentionally pushing me. When I told him to stand straight, he simply refused to move and started shouting at me.” This is only one instance of harassment faced by women but at times the situation goes beyond control.
Women are not spared in auto rickshaws either.
Mrs Rani Bhattacharya (28) (name changed) said: “I was on my way to Lake Town from Belgacchia metro station in an auto. A co-passenger was repeatedly trying to touch me, although to onlookers it would seem as if he was taking money from his pocket. When I raised my voice in protest, the auto driver was kind enough to ask him to get off the auto.” Mrs Bhattacharya said that had the driver not come to her rescue, she would have had to bear it.
Local trains are the assaulters’ paradise.
A media professional, Ms Chandrani Roy (name changed) boldly faced a situation that arose while she was on her way to office. She said: “I was travelling in the general compartment of Kalyani local with a group of friends. Suddenly, I felt someone touch me. When I looked back, I saw him repeat the same thing with my friend. Before he could get off, I caught hold of him. He hit me several times in an attempt to break free. Surprisingly, no one came to my help. Instead, a few ‘concerned’ co-passengers advised me to leave him alone and ‘not create a fuss’, as if I was at fault.” She said the so-called “cultured” lot of our society turn out “saviours” for these assaulters.
The Metro Railways are no exception.
Ms Sharmila Mitra (name changed) (24), faced a similar situation while she was travelling from Dum Dum to Esplanade during rush hour. “I found a person aged between 40-45 years unnecessarily pushing me. I did not protest at that moment, but before getting off the train, I slapped him. People around stared at me as if I committed a crime by hitting him,” she said.
When a student was asked if he would raise a voice against such offenders, he said: “If someone simply passes a comment, I might not say anything. But if it goes to the extent of physical assault, I would definitely protest against it.” His female friend preferred not to comment on the issue.
According to Ms Sukhla Tarafdar, OC (Women’s Grievance Cell) said: “I have not come across any complaint on this issue. Though Section 509 explains that any word, gesture or act intended to outrage the modesty of a woman is a punishable offense, no one seem to take its help.”