The safety of women in public transports has been an issue of concern with the cases of harassment rising at an alarming rate. Various measures are been taken by public transport authorities across the country to make it safe again for women. One such effort is the ‘DURGA’ alarms installed by the Banglore Metropolitan Transport Corporation(BMTC) in its buses. According to the Deccan Herald, this initiative was taken to safeguard women and children against any sort of harassment in public transport.
How does this Alarm work
The BMTC has made a pact with Dare To Understand behaviour, Respond appropriately and Guard ourselves Ably (DURGA), a citizen initiative started by Priya Varadarajan for the installations of these alarms. Each of them is priced at Rs 7000 and has been designed by the students of MS Ramaiah Institute of Technology. The manufacturing was done by a Bengaluru based firm.
According to the New India Express, the switches for the alarms are placed on both sides of the buses on the panel between the windows, making them easily accessible even by children. To tackle the problems faced due to the language barrier, pictorial representation of the working of the alarms is also shown.
A protocol has to be followed after the alarm has been triggered, which consists of the driver taking the bus to the left-most part of the road and halting it. The conductor will know where the alarm has been raised and can intervene. If the situation is not addressable at that time, the Depot manager will be alerted who can call the police, if the situation requires. The Alarm has been pressed 10 times since February out of which 4 were the cases of sexual harassment, says Priya.
What is the DURGA
DURGA is a citizens initiative. This initiative was started by Priya Varadarajan to build the skills among girls and women required to recognize inappropriate behaviour and respond to public harassment. On the topic of the alarms, Priya told New India Express that these alarms have not only been used in the case of sexual harassment cases but also in the times of chain snatching and pickpocketing. “Soon the panic alarm system will be integrated with a GPS location of the buses, so that every time the alarm is pressed, the depot manager and traffic command centre of BMTC gets an alert”, Priya added.
Providing means of safety outside buses too
Apart from the alarms, DURGA has started a lot of other campaigns to make women aware of the means to defend themselves. The organisation recently started a drive called the ‘Safe Neighbourhood action programme’, under which they have identified numerous underprivileged schools and colleges in Jayanagar area and intends on teaching them how to respond to emergency situations. DURGA plans to train 1,500 girls by the end of this year and make them capable of tackling any harassment they might face on their own. The organisation also has an online module called ‘Anybody Can Be Durga’, under which they teach people how to tackle harassment by the means of video tutorials.