To empower bus drivers and conductors in taking action against miscreants inside buses, the Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking has collaborated with a local NGO, Akshara, to sensitise its bus staff on women’s safety.
Akshara, which will begin the campaign across 26 bus depots from July 10, launched the ‘Twarita Mohim’ campaign on Monday at BEST headquarters in Colaba.
As part of the campaign, Akshara will distribute around 14,500 booklets to sensitise BEST staffers regarding the discomfort experienced by women passengers inside buses and urging the bus crew to actively intervene when a man misbehaves with a woman commuter.
“We need to create an understanding that misbehaving with women inside buses is a serious offence and it needs to be dealt with strictly,” said Nandita Shah, co-director of Akshara.
A four-step intervention has been suggested in the “rule card” which is a part of the pamphlets that will be distributed from July 10. “Warning the miscreant against misbehaviour and shifting him away from the victim are the initial measures suggested. However, if the man continues to misbehave, the conductor can ask him to leave the bus. However, in a worst case scenario, if the victim agrees to file a police complaint, the driver and conductor will take the bus directly to the nearest police station,” said Urmila Salunkhe, networking officer and trainer at Akshara.
“Our intention is not to inconvenience other commuters. However, commuters must realise that misbehaving with a woman commuter is a serious offence and if there is a need to lodge a police complaint everyone should come to the victim’s assistance,” said Shah.
Women helpline numbers 103 and BEST helpline number 1800227550 will also be announced by conductors periodically to inform women commuters about the emergency numbers.