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13% women avoid using public transport due to sexual harassment

As women right and safety has not been assured in public transport, they are unable to contribute in various development sectors. 13% women avoid using public transport due to sexual harassment. To ease women movement by public transport it is important to ensure enough buses and also accessibility and safety in those. On 31st March 2016, Population Service and Training Center (PSTC), ActionAid Bangladesh and Work for a Better Bangladesh (WBB) Trust jointly organized a view exchange meeting at Bangladesh Institute of Planners (B.I.P) Auditorium on ‘Actions to ensure safe and convenient public transport for women’ and speakers expressed the above mentioned view there.

Keynote speaker of the program Maruf Hossain, Program Manager, WBB Trust, said that, research says that 20.7% women travel in public transport. They avoid public transport in fear of suffering and sexual harassment. 41% women are the victim of sexual harassment in public transport. Existing laws and policies should be enforced to ensure safe and convenient public transport for women.

Gaous Pearee, Director, WBB Trust, said that, women are the worst sufferer in the public transport system. Not getting bus in time, uncertainty of seat and moreover unwanted situation are their daily sufferings. Our aim is to bring the situation in tolerable level.

Tahmina Yasmin, Program Manager, Gender Justice and Diversity Program, said that, 51% population of Bangladesh is women. Law enforcement is important to ensure women safety. Only 9 seats are not enough for women. Government should take initiative to increase the number of the seats.

Abu Naser Khan, Chairman, Save the Environment Movement (POBA), said that, to ensure equal participation of women in all sector, it is important to meet their transportation demand. Coordinating with Bangladesh police will be very fruitful to stop harassment of women.

Shawkat Ali, Secretary, Bangladesh Road Transport Authority, said that, BRTA has taken various initiatives to ensure safe and convenient travel. Two buses for women were introduced in 1990. Seats are reserved for women in the bus. Our Prime Minister has ordered to establish training center for drivers in all districts. 

Parliament Member Advocate Fazilatunnesa Bappi said that, proper welfare of the country won’t be possible without women. Technology can be used in the public transport. Drivers and helpers should be trained to stop sexual harassment. Safe and convenient travel should also be ensured for person with disabilities.

The view exchange meeting was presided by Farah Kabir, Country Director; ActionAid Bangladesh said that, 48% women experience harassment from drivers and helpers. These are the group of people who are the victim of others torture. So it is important to consider their mental state and take initiative in this regard.

The program was moderated by Kaniz Gofrani Quraishy, Component Manager (Gender and Governance), PSTC. Shahnaj Arefin, Director (Program Policy Campaign), ActionAid Bangladesh; Aklima Khatun, Director, Gana Shastho Kendra, Advocate Selina Akter, Senior Coordinator, Ain o Salish Kendra, Sanjida Akter, Radio Dhoni, Mokhlesur Rahman, Bangladesh Road Transport Labour Federation, Akter-uz-Zaman, Bangladesh Urban Forum, Aminur Rasul, Member Secretary, Unnayan Dhara Trust, Mahbubul Hakim, UN Women and many more were present in the meeting.