Women commuters in the city want panic buttons installed in railway coaches to get help in case of an emergency and a hassle-free procedure to lodge complaints of harassment.
They also want the railway administration to take into account the changing work pattern while planning safety measures, as the growth in the service sector has led to women working late hours, in addition to studying the work-home dynamics.
The suggestions were part of a gender equality survey conducted by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) for the railways.
About 16 lakh women use the suburban network in Mumbai and surrounding areas every day.
The report submitted to the Mumbai Railway Vikas Corporation (MRVC) last week revealed almost one in four or 23.5% women commuters suffered harassment on suburban trains or stations. So they want better policing at stations and an improvement in coordination between the government railway police force (GRPF) and railway protection force (RPF). They want improvement in designs of staircase, foot overbridges, and constructing them near women’s coaches for easy access.
Women rights activists are, however, sceptical about the implementation of the report.
“The suggestions are good, but will the railways implement them? Whenever there is some incident, the railway authorities make announcements, but not much is done. Improved policing is definitely needed,” said Lata Argade, transport activist.
With the increase in the number of working women, transport experts said there is an urgent need to create awareness about women’s safety. “Women who raise concerns over harassment are not supported by co-passengers. There is a need to sensitise co-passengers, and not just the police and railway authorities,” said Mrunal Bhatankar, resident of Bandra east.
Every day, 75 lakh suburban passengers travel on both Central Railway (CR) and Western Railway (WR).