Harassment Rampant in Public Transport as Women Continue to Suffer

A large number of women cannot make use of public transport worry-free due to the rampant harassment, since there is no effective reporting system in place, forcing many into silence or opting for more expensive transport services.

Women of all ages, from different walks of life, and senses of fashion or clothing, report at least one incident of being harassed in public transport.

Ambreen Fatima, a GC University Lahore student, stated that she cannot remember the first time she was harassed while taking public transportation.

A 19-year-old college student, Faryal, revealed she uses an abaya but is nevertheless stared at while riding public transportation. She went on to say that when men are confronted about their stare, they start smiling casually without any display of remorse or embarrassment.

Conversely, Razia Bano from  Karachi, stated that if someone harasses a woman or a girl, other commuters intervene if they notice it, but there is no alternative way to report it. Razia believes that in instances of harassment, bus operators should deliver timely support.

A Karachi-based women’s rights activist, Sheena Kirmani, suggested a helpline for women to report cases of harassment as well as employing more policewomen because they can handle such situations better.

The General Manager of Operations (GMO) of the Punjab Mass Transit Authority (PMA) acknowledged the situation, saying that special call centers are in the works for this purpose. Until then, complaints can be forwarded through the authority’s social media accounts.

Similarly, a representative of Peshawar’s Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), Sadaf Kamil, disclosed that all harassment complaints are supposed to be reported to the provincial ombudsperson but none have been received yet. 

When such a process potentially delaying reporting or perhaps discouraging women from reporting, was brought up, Sadaf stated that TransPeshawar lacked law enforcement power.

Likewise, the Managing Director of Sindh Mass Transit Authority (SMTA), Altaf Sario, named security cameras as the service’s anti-harassment measure, however, the cameras are not operational. He added that lady security officers visit the buses from time to time for this purpose.

Via Express Tribune

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