With sexual harassment of girl students being reported in school buses, mothers of school children have taken the initiative to get bus operators to employ women attendants in buses.
“It started when we read in newspapers about a 4-and-a-half-year-old girl being raped. This triggered panic. Buses in our area didn’t have woman attendants. I sent out a WhatsApp message to parents I was in contact with to discuss the issue,” said a mother who did not wish to be named. “We met on May 25 and called bus owners to the meeting. Once it was about safety of children, everybody turned up,” she added.
Latika Sharma, who attended the meeting said, “We are all working mothers so there is a time issue. Secondly the driver is the same but the conductor keeps changing. All we have is a number which we call whenever kids leave behind something in the bus. We realised that we need to have more information on people in the bus. We told the owner that if a woman attendant is not appointed, we will complain to the Regional Transport Office which can cancel his permit,” said Sharma. “Many other mothers too have come to know about this initiative and are taking up this initiative. After all it is the matter of security of our kids,” added Sharma who has asked bus owners to provide full information on the driver, conductor and woman attendant so that parents can verify their credentials.
The biggest problem is there is little awareness on rules and regulations, said Avani Dambal, a mother who has formed a group demanding another bus owner to employ a woman attendant. “Not everyone is aware of RTO rules on employing a woman attendant compulsorily. So once I came to know about it, we joined together and held a meeting with parents whose kids went in the bus my daughter took to school. Our bus still doesn’t have a woman attendant, but we have given an ultimatum to the driver to get an attendant by June 15. We have told him we will not pay till the time, he gets a woman attendant and he has agreed,” said Avani. “We have also asked for a character certificate of the woman…,” added Dambal.