VOX POPULI: Reserved seats for women in public transport- And the truth is...!
The directions issued by the Traffic department for ensuring reservation for women in public transport, it seems, have been thrown to winds in the Valley as one could spot female commuters standing amidst huge rush in buses and minibuses. Any given day, one can spot women travelling in the local transport alongside men without either asserting their due of seats or being denied the reservation promised by law. There is no outcry, no stir and no news as well!
Abid Hussain of ‘Kashmir Images’ spoke to some people regarding the issue. Excerpts:
There are a couple of reasons as to why the directions by the traffic regulating authorities don’t seem getting any response- First there is lack of awareness, people aren’t sure about such directions and even if they have some know-how, they still lack proper information as to which seats and how many etc. Secondly there is either less or no intervention from the traffic police for properly implementing the ruling of reservation. The patriarchal culture that is reflected everywhere seems to continually haunt us at public places and in public transport as well.
Abul Hassan, Student
In absence of any inspection by traffic authorities, we face harassment and nobody is ready to extend a helping hand. Regularly, buses are crammed and unscrupulous elements always try to violate our dignity. It is primarily the duty of the concern department to ensure the arrangement that has been promised to female commuters. Also women will have to assert and be defiant if we have to have our rightful place.
Instead of making laws, government should have sensitised men regarding this norm. Being socially and culturally vibrant, people of Kashmir are respectful of their womenfolk and it is only a matter of some encouragement and setting this as a regular feature of our public transport.
Firdous Nabi, Social Activist
In today's world, people believe in equality even women consider themselves equal to men. Most females think that they should compete men in all aspects of life, so why this seat reservation? If men can remain standing in public transport why can't we?
Gazala Nisar, Journalist
I never muster courage to ask a male passenger to vacate a seat meant for females. I rather prefer standing as I am afraid that the person might shout at me. Moreover, I have always noticed that men keep seated while women stand in buses and mini-buses is gross violation of the directions by traffic authorities who have ordered to keep seats reserved for women and specially challenged persons. But it's all in vain! It's not being followed in Kashmir at all and no action is taken by the authorities!
The seats which are reserved for women in public transport should be left for them but due to carelessness of government, the female passengers are bearing the brunt. Further, I personally feel that people have forgotten the moral obligation of offering seats to women.
Ishfaq Shah, Teacher
Men occupy seats meant for women to satisfy their male chauvinist ego. I think there is a need to change the mentality of men who occupy reserved seats. Further, it’s our religious, moral and legal obligation to offer women seats in overcrowded buses.
Waseem Ahmad Ganie, Student
Some male passengers are deliberately disregarding the orders issued by the authorities regarding reservation of seats for women as they think their personal status would go down and some do it due to lack of awareness. So, awareness becomes the first tool and we should spread a word about it and make sure that we do our bit while the authorities also need to buckle up and check any violations in this regard.
Sadam Hussain Pandow, Freelance Journalist