Install Announcement Systems against Sexual Harassment in TSRTC buses, Hyderabad by Apr'22

Install Announcement Systems against Sexual Harassment in TSRTC buses, Hyderabad by Apr'22

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Hima Bindu started this petition to Smt. Vakiti Sunitha Lakshma Reddy (Chairperson, Telangana State Commission for Women) and

Every single time a stranger eyed me with lust,
I managed to navigate and escape the touch;
As the unknown eyes devoured me inch by inch,
My skin crawled and shrunk;
While I froze under the debris of a million haunting flashbacks!

It was about 8 PM. I boarded the bus at the Secunderabad bus stand to travel back home. It was a fairly empty bus and I took my seat. Soon came a seemingly decent man - short, dressed in brown, who headed straight to my seat and sat next to me. I assumed the men's section of seats was occupied, though I lacked the courage to turn around and check with this man beside me.

He enquired me about the time and chirped in all of a sudden, “Nice dress,". I pretended to not hear him. He quietly put his hand over my thigh and rubbed over it. I was in shock; all my senses froze! He snuggled closer and tried to whisper some gibberish in my ear. His gaze stayed on me. Even before I realised what I was going through, I was molested. 

I took my time to process the incidents. I slowly mustered the courage to raise my voice and stand up for myself. He was giggling at me. I called the conductor for help. The man looked at me, only after judging me for how deep my neckline was. In addition, “Why did you allow him to do so? It’s your fault,” echoed the crowd!

  • 44% boys and parents in Telangana think a girl is harassed because she is 'asking for it' (WINGS 2018)
  • One-third of adolescent girls in India fear unwelcome touching or stalking in public places. One-fifth of them apprehend the risk of being physically harassed. (Save the Children, 2018)

We have umpteen cases where even 2-year-old children and 60-year-old women are molested and raped. So, do you still think it’s our clothing or age that causes sexual harassment? We are touched, catcalled, and ogled at as we keep distance, or while we do what we humanly do - walking, waiting, sitting, standing, or even breathing! It leads to the loss of freedom, privacy, access to public spaces, and most importantly the trust in commuting freely. No person deserves this.

National Sample Survey Organisation (NSSO) data also shows that more than 60 percent of both rural and urban households use the bus as their primary mode of transport, and scores of people, especially women are heavily dependent on it. Ensuring a safer transit infrastructure would reflect an increase in our access to life’s opportunities. It makes a difference not only to women’s safety but also to the State’s perception and seriousness of it.

What could be better in our transit infrastructure?

Apart from the functional SHE Teams and Bharosa Centres, we need a step towards spreading awareness against street sexual harassment, leading to behavioural change.

We propose installing announcement systems and laminated posters with dedicated messages against sexual harassment and its reporting mechanisms. Reinforcing pro-social messages through public announcements subconsciously bears behavioural change at its core. Impact, you may ask? Well, do you know someone who would now pick up stranded bags or suspicious objects in a railway station anymore? Or do you see more people standing by the doors in a metro? Why not? And even if someone does, we do know what to do next, don’t we?

That is the power of message reinforcements through public announcements!

In a system that turns a blind eye to street sexual harassment, announcements subconsciously drive home a point – to denormalise it by spreading adequate awareness, eventually leading to positive behavioural change.

Announcement systems and laminated posters together apparently form a fraction of the price of partitions currently set up inside TSRTC ordinary buses for women’s safety. The costs incurred for installing the said tools shall reap more benefits as people, especially us women and other gender-minorities might travel more confidently henceforth – as our invisibilised struggles feel systemically seen.

Here’s requesting the Ministers of Transport, Information & Technology, Women Development & Child Welfare, and Telangana State Commission for Women along with all other representatives to have the following in TSRTC Hyderabad city buses (ordinary, metro, metro-deluxe and AC) to ensure a safer transit infrastructure for commuters:

  • Announcements against sexual harassment, approximately every 20 minutes in four different languages (Telugu, Hindi, Urdu, and English) in all TSRTC city buses.
  • Laminated posters inside the bus with dedicated messages against sexual harassment, and helpline numbers imprinted on the posters, encouraging more people to report the crime.

Mobility is the focal point that connects women to economic independence, which will in turn take us closer to the goal of women’s empowerment. Hence, it is of critical importance that we ensure that a safer, gender-responsive transit infrastructure is in place that accommodates the needs of the most vulnerable sections of the society, to counter street sexual harassment.

Please sign and share the petition to make public spaces safer for women and people, one step at a time.

0 have signed. Let’s get to 2,500!
At 2,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!