In the Kashmir capital of Srinagar, passengers are reportedly reveling in a new travel option: an all women bus service. The “Ladies Special Service” — an initiative of the region’s first woman chief minister, Mehbooba Mufti — was launched in April, immediately after her appointment, and the BBC’s Geeta Pandey took a ride to gauge the response of its new patrons two months in.
The fleet of five buses make two round-trips a day, from a complex in the Lal Chowk area to Kashmir University, and is used mostly by students and teachers. Criticized by a male opposition legislator, Chief Minister Mufti argued that it was difficult for a man to “comprehend what women went through” while traveling by bus — and the feedback from some of the new service’s passengers bears that out.
“Traveling on a regular bus is like going to war,” offered former university student Umaira Hassan. “I have to steel myself, fight my way in, push and shove others to make some space for myself.”
She said a recent survey by a local group revealed “if there were 10 women on a bus, nine got harassed,” and added that all her friends have stories of male passengers touching and groping them.
“Other passengers look at you as if you’re the one at fault. Everyone blames you, everyone says it must be the woman’s fault,” said university student Sadia. “Women have to put up with this sort of bad behavior regularly. I appreciate the chief minister for thinking of this bus service. It seems finally our prayers have been answered.”
An official from the transport department, Mushtaq Ahmed Chanda, told the BBC that the service would be expanded in the next month, adding two more services in response to demand, but warned that it is running at a loss and may be unsustainable.
Read the full story at the BBC.