Though BEST buses have witnessed a high level of crime against women, most of these cases have never been registered. The reason being that women are either too scared to oppose or are apprehensive of the lack of support from the BEST staff on the bus and other co-passengers. It is true that most of these bus conductors are not sensitive towards such crimes and hence simply ignore them, but not any more.
Nandita Shah, co-director of Akshara, shares, "We conducted a survey in the city and found that 95 per cent of the women have experienced some kind of sexual harassment, while 46 per cent of them have experienced such harassment while travelling in BEST buses. This required us to take action and hence we have made a rulebook for BEST bus conductors."
This rulebook explains what needs to be done in case there is such an incident on-board and how to tackle the situation. Shah adds, "The rulebook has been integrated in the BEST curriculum. During staff training, the employees will be trained on this as well. They will be told how to tackle cases efficiently." On a larger scale, the psychology of the staff has to change and this can be done by sensitising them.
Akshara is a Dadar-based NGO that works for gender equality.