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Safe Train Travel for Women: Will These New Railway Guidelines Be Enough?

Safe Train Travel for Women: Will These New Railway Guidelines Be Enough?
Most women do not feel safe commuting via trains, Photo Credit: Zoran Karapancev / Shutterstock.com

Railway statistics say that at least 20 percent of the 2.3 crore people who travel daily by trains are women. But most women do not feel safe while commuting on India's railway networks

OT Staff
March 23 , 2021
03 Min Read
The Ministry of Railways has just issued a detailed set of guidelines to prevent crimes against women, both on trains and in railway stations. These are a combination of preventive measures, sensitisation programmes, action plan, surveillance over identified vulnerable areas, and other special measures.
 
As per ministry records, about 20 percent of the 2.3 crore people who travel daily by Indian railways are women. Several incidents of crimes against women in trains and railway premises have been recorded in the past decades. In order to mitigate this, Indian Railways has come up with some steps, said an official statement issued by the Ministry of Railways.
 
Read: Indian Railways Just Released its First-Ever AC-3-Tier Economy Coach

Preventive Measures:
Among these are some obvious ones such as proper lighting arrangements, covering all vulnerable areas identified in railway stations, parking, approach roads, ends of platforms, and maintenance depots, among others. The Ministry has also ordered for the demolition of abandoned structures around railways premises. All unauthorized entries and exits will also be closed. Furthermore, yards, pits as well as the nearby railway area of stations has to be kept clean of unwanted vegetation, as these may provide cover for offenders.
 
“Waiting rooms should not remain unattended and persons should be allowed to enter the waiting rooms after proper entry, particularly in nights and at times when there is minimum presence of passengers,” the guidelines said. “It should be cross-checked by the duty officer at odd hours.”
 
No gatherings near toilets: most crimes have been reported there.
 
About 20 percent of the 2.3 people traveling daily by trains are women
Surveillance:
Monitoring of CCTV feeds. “The position of women’s coaches should be fixed at the platform and CCTV camera to be especially installed on the platform at that point so as to provide adequate coverage of these coaches. A database on sexual offenders residing in an area should be maintained to keep surveillance on them,” the statement noted.
 
As passengers get free internet connectivity on railways, it will be ensured, with the help of various network providers, that no porn sites are accessible through this service. 
 
Read: Indian Railways is Running Special Trains for Holi
 
Sensitisation and Awareness:
Adequate steps will be taken to sensitise railway employees and contractual staff. “Staff engaged in checking of rolling stocks, porters, hawkers and vendors should be encouraged to report the incident without loss of time to police or the station master,” said the statement.

Zonal Railways officials have been directed to use cultural troupes for nukkad nataks (street plays) to spread awareness about women safety, cleanliness and other things.

Action plan:
An action plan classified as short-term and long-term has been launched. As part of the short-term plan, the Ministry will amp up vigilance on suspects. Regular visits to vulnerable spots will be made by duty officers and staff during rounds. The long-term plan includes improvement of existing basic infrastructure such as the CCTV system, light masts and more.

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