Here is the perfect example of a woman forcing an organisation to sit up and take notice of women's safety. Bengaluru-based Rashmi Bachani had one bad experience on a bus, and she decided not to let the matter rest. She was once was travelling from Goa to Bangalore when she was allegedly molested by the driver on-board a bus she booked through redBus.
Describing the incident when the bus reached Majestic stop, Rashmi told The News Minute, “I woke up to the driver squeezing my chest. I was horrified and did not know how to react. I just took my bags and left. redBus did not have any information regarding the driver. So I had to resort to filing a complaint at the Majestic Police Station.”
Bachani then decided to start a nationwide online campaign by booking a petition on Change.org two months ago, highlighting women safety issues on board private buses plying between cities. Her campaign generated tremendous response, with signatures that read like this:
RedBus in a blog acknowledged Rashmi’s plea and stated that they were "attempting to put together a comprehensive system for resolution of problems associated with safety of women travellers". The number of signatures though kept growing.
As the campaign gained ground, more and more people came out to support her demand, urging the redBus authorities to look into few matters like listing such as drivers' background verification and the steps to be taken for ensuring women's safety before, during and after travel.
Finally with the number of signatures having reached a massive number of 1.4 lakh over a sustained campaign of two months, redBus finally has commited to enhancing its safety measures for women during bus travel.
While exclusive talking with SheThePeople.TV, Rashmi Bachani says, "Women need to stop brushing these incidents under the carpet. Things happen. Sexual harassment is an unfortunate reality all women have faced, I'm yet to come across a girl who wasn't abused in any way at least once in her life. If it happens as a child, there's not much you can do. But if it happens when you're an adult and you still stay quiet about it, you are letting these predators know they can get away with treating women in any way they like."
- GPS-enabled buses, live tracking, CCTV cameras, background verification of staff, and sharing of rest stop information with customers as well as driver details and emergency numbers.
- A feedback email would also be sent out specifically to women passengers, using the Redbus platform, to collect information about the ride.
- Private bus operators currently do not have fixed guidelines or rules mandating the fitting of GPS systems or CCTV cameras. However, this has been discussed generally in meetings held by the Transport Department.
"We applaud Rashmi for courageously bringing the issue of women safety to the forefront. RedBus fully supports this cause. While we do not not own or operate buses, we have undertaken several measures within our control to help improve passenger safety, especially for women travellers," redBus's CEO Prakash Sangam wrote, as reported by TOI.
We asked few women travellers in Bangalore who often travel in buses for work purpose and got their opinion about the matter:
"I think this is a very good move by redBus. This gives us a ray of hope towards a safer bus ride especially when we travel alone.", says 25-year-old Anjana Ramakrishnan.
"Kudos to Rashmi Bachani for taking such a huge step towards women safety. We all have high hopes on the outcome of this change,"says 27-year-old Debarati Dev.
When a platform like Change.org is helping people to start campaigning on issues that concern them, hope the new changes by RedBus will serve its purpose so that women like Rashmi Bachani don't have to suffer such cases of molestation again.
Feature Image Credit: thehindu