With a handful of women-only buses run by Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC) on major routes in Dhaka, thousands of women commuters are forced to resort to other forms of transportation to get around the city. Although a government rule back in 2008 set nine reserved seats for women and people with disabilities on all city buses, this stipulation is not followed by any private bus operator. Both the bus helpers and male commuters do not feel the necessity of abiding by the law. Consequently, women who do brave getting on public transportation must contend with indignities.
There are tens of thousands of women professionals who must get to their workplace at a designated time and as many students who have to attend school, college and universities. Given the present state of affairs, some of these women end up spending as much as Tk 500 a day by using auto-rickshaws for travel to and from work. Needless to say, this puts a huge pressure on their purse.
That male commuters are allowed to occupy women-only seats is deplorable. At many bus stops, women are told by bus helpers there are no seats for women. Matters have been allowed to slide thus far due to a lack of any focused attention to ease the plight of women commuters. Bus owners, operators and law enforcers must get their act together to ensure that the reserved quota for women on the transports is strictly followed on pain of punishment.