In a city where women are battling each day for their safety, the only woman bus driver in the city has much more to face. Saritha has a tough time with passengers on the bus who hurl abuse at her for almost anything that happens which is beyond her control. She says, “The passengers start shouting and using cuss words if the AC of the bus is not functional or for any other minor reasons. It is difficult to deal with the situations when you’re the only woman fighting against a big crowd.”
Further, she added, “I’ve been trying and knocking doors of official authorities to appoint me as a permanent staff, but each time I get an excuse. I have visited Delhi Minister Mr Arvind Kejriwal’s office as well as met Prime Minister Mr Narendra Modi with my concerns and requests but have failed to receive any help from them.”
In a violent incident, a stone was hit on Saritha’s windscreen which shook her and she filed a complaint. Now, she has been given protection and a police constable travels with her during her shift hours.
On being asked about what is her demand is, she said, “When I first joined DTC, I was allocated a monthly remuneration of merely Rs 12,000 and now within 3 years I’ve only got a hike of 3,000. But it is nearly impossible to survive in this city and also look after my family in native with the meagre payment I receive. I have been honoured with many awards and accolades, but that isn’t enough to fill my family’s stomach and mine. For the long number of hours I put in, the salary does not seem sufficient.”
Bias Against Women Drivers
Saritha added, “Men drive rashly and perform attention seeking antics when they encounter a woman on the wheels. The stress of long working hours, poor remuneration and unruly passengers has made her survival difficult and also taken a toll on her health. I think if no action is being taken, I should go back to Telangana and start afresh there.”
Last year, she had met Telangana Transport Minister, P Mahendra Reddy and expressed her wish to be a driver with TSRTC. She also submitted her academic qualifications seeking a permanent job. After examining her records, the Minister assured her that she would be given priority whenever the recruitments take place.
Megha Thadani is an Intern with SheThePeople.TV
Picture Credit: The Indian Express