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Blog Entry# 3481597
Posted: Jun 02 (18:04)

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ML/Mumbai Local
Jun 02 (18:04)   Why are men allowed to board the ladies coach on Mumbai local trains after 11pm?

Jayashree ❖ Amita*^   41052 news posts
Entry# 3481597   News Entry# 339313         Tags   Past Edits
Why are men allowed to travel in the ladies compartment after 11 pm? In what is considered to be the most contentious issue relating to women’s safety on local trains, men are allowed to board the ladies coach after 11 pm.
Mumbai locals are not that crowded in the night so when there are empty men coaches what propels the men to take the ladies coach? Well, there are no gender biases but isn’t it a better option to ensure security to women passengers travelling alone in the night? On all the three lines Central, Western and Harbour, men are allowed to take the ladies coach from 11 pm till 7 am.
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Western Railway after studying the prospects turned the middle coach for women into a general compartment after 11 pm so that men can board it between 11 pm and 7 am. The railway police and the Railway Protection Force (RPF) suggested turning the ladies coach for women into a general compartment for safety of women passengers, but it just doesn’t seem to work this way.
Recently, in the Churchgate to Borivali Slow Local, men boarded the ladies coach sharp at 11.03 pm. Women travelling in the compartment told the men to get off the compartment but with pride they said, ‘we are allowed to travel in the ladies coach after 11 pm’. The home guard, who was quietly observing the argument, politely asked the women to keep calm as the rule allows men to travel by ladies coach in the night. A feeling of helplessness and regret was seen on the faces of women. With hope, they were looking at the home guard, to which the enraged home guard said, “I am just trying to understand the mindset of men who get into the ladies coach shamelessly in spite of the men's coach being empty. It is shocking to see even qualified men behave this way. Men's coach is empty after 11 pm but why do they get in the ladies coach? If one man shows maturity the others too will understand, but when one gathers the courage to take the ladies coach, the rest follow.”
Men board ladies coach between 11pm-7am
When I spoke to the home guard, (name withheld on request), she said, “Every day this situation prevails, but I am helpless to do anything. I cannot take action because this is the rule of Railways. Men get in the ladies coach the minute it is 11. I cannot do anything because according to the rules, men are allowed to take the ladies coach. I request the female passengers to write an application to the station master to discontinue this. We need 24 hours ladies coach and this change should happen at the earliest. In Virar local, women commuters cannot find a seat and it becomes inconvenient and uncomfortable for the women to take the coach as the men barge in the compartment in the night.”
“If we will complain, we are told that it is an order and we need to follow. Unless the public complains, nothing will happen. There are times when women commuters travel with their men relatives in ladies compartment. Every day, I live in fear of what will happen if a drunkard gets in and creates a ruckus in the ladies coach. “The ladies home guard is out for patrolling till the last local but there are times when we miss our train due to technical glitches, so women commuters travel without a home guard. What if an uncalled for incident occurs? Who shall be responsible for it? Not only in Western, but this is the same situation in Central and Harbour too,” she added on condition of anonymity.
“This isn’t our problem; this is the problem of the public. In Andheri, commuters complained about narrow FOBs etc and so elevators and new bridges were constructed. Neither do I have the authority nor do the rules allow me to get the men out of the coach. I don’t have the authority now. It is only the ladies first class and the first ladies coach where men cannot get in the ladies coach in the night. If the men's coach is crowded in peak hours, then one can understand but why do men get in the ladies coach when the coach is empty.”
When Mirror spoke to Ravinder Bhakar, Chief Public Relations Officer, Western Railway, he said, “Many women travel with their male companions and they feel safe to travel with them and that is why men were allowed to take the ladies coach in the night. A lot of debate has been going on this subject and a lot of brainstorming was done before coming out with this rule. Finally, majority of women commuters suggested that men should be allowed in the late hours. And that is why this is in place.”
“The rule has been in place for a long time now. If one says it shouldn’t be done the other 10 say it should be done, so it has been decided unanimously. Those who are travelling with ladies, their friends, relatives or companions, I think they should accompany them otherwise single men should go in other coaches as seats are vacant in the night. This is common sense. This is a very sensitive issue and a lot of debate is still on. I too have come across such situations many times but the present set up that is in place is unanimously agreed by ladies commuters.”
“As on date, almost 25 per cent to 30 per cent on Western Railway commuters are ladies out of 37 lakh who travel. In the past, majority of them have said that they are comfortable with this system and it should continue. Despite this we are regularly taking suggestions from women commuters. This Women’s day too we distributed feedback forms and took suggestions. And again from June 4, we will be conducting camps at Borivali, Virar, Bandra, Andheri and our women officers will be interacting with the ladies commuters. A suggestion box will be kept for the entire week and ladies can come and give their feedback.”
While the debate still continues, do write to Mirror with your feedback on your opinion: Should male passengers be allowed in the Ladies compartments of suburban trains after 11 pm?

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