Violence in Public Transport: Parliamentarian has been beaten up

Violence in Public Transport: Parliamentarian has been beaten up

by Radha Paudel
A few popular Medias such as ONS News and Kantipur have covered news about the physical abuse of a parliamentarian (member of Constitutional Assembly –II) in a tempoo (a means of public transport in Nepal) in 11 June 2014. Her name is Ms Rita Shahi. She was on her to way Constitutional Assembly (CA) meeting from Battisputali to Baneshor.
As media highlighted, Ms. Shahi didn’t call police, rather informed CA speaker for her security. The CA Speaker (Suvash Nembang) informed home minister (Bamdev Gautam), and then the home minister reassured of safety and security of the CA members. Other members of CA including Leader of Maoist Party Mr. Prachanda, further spoke about the need of additional safety and security of its members.
This news saddened me and perhaps many individuals in many ways. What is the root cause of this violence? Who is there to take responsibilities for this type of crime and urgency?
I.                   Media just cover the news and none of the media talk about the existence of such policy, its implementation, and whether government gives priority to solve such issues or not.
II.                  The women CA members demanded their security: Police-Escort or vehicle or money for the transport (taxi). They are not ready to take the issue forward for safety and security of the general women and girls.
III.               The speaker, home minister and Mr. Prachanda are talking about the security of CA member only rather than addressing much serious issue of women rights, and its  sustainability.
In Nepal, women and girls are suffering from various forms of violence in public transportation. Usually, the most common users of public transportation are from the low and medium class population. They are powerless in many ways. Ms. Rita is CA member, she is in a powerful position; however, her identity was not written on her forehead. The drivers, conductors, most men passengers, and traffic police abuse women and girls in various ways such as verbal, physical, sexual, emotional. The code of conduct of public transport 2067 is not being implemented at all. The code of conduct is like a hot potato among the key stakeholders: Association of Public Transport, National Women Commission, Ministry of Labor and Transport, Traffic Police. The ordinance on sexual violence at workplace doesn’t talk about the violence of public transportation clearly. No one sector has been ready to hold this conduct and its implementation responsibly yet.

Can we imagine her situation in this issue if she was not a CA member? Would anyone have listened to her, if she were not in power? Perhaps, she wouldn’t have told anyone even with her best friend or mother. Because of the justice mechanism for women and girls is so paralyzed, especially on sexual violence. The judge asks for the evidence which even paralyzes women and girl from speaking up openly. Police deny registering such cases till 21 plus days. The policy makers and political parties are good for expressing their commitment in papers and speeches not in action.
In compare to buses and micro buses, the tempoo is more secure means of transportation because of its limited seats. The bus and micro-bus always carry nearly double passengers than its capacity: no seats for women or timetable are designated. They neither follow traffic rules nor does traffic authority regulate it.
In London, the survivors, activists and funders are gathering from June 10-13, 2014 in order to end sexual violence in conflict. No doubt, few Nepali representatives are participating this event as a delegate from post conflict nation, Nepal.
I have been experiencing some form of violence in public transportation for many years. Perhaps, many other sisters have suffered in one way or other in daily basis. Women cover the half earth, mother, teach, manage and much more.

Very those women get targeted from the cruelest, harshest and unbearable violence. Shouldn’t those women be even safer than ever? Don’t they have even more reason to walk, work, and feel safer at home and beyond? How would any child feel safe if a mother is being abused in every step of her way? Where is the price of women’s vote? 

June 11, 2014,
West Hill, CA, USA                                                                                                      2

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