Women Still Harassed on Delhi's Metro Despite Measures

" I pledge to take the general train compartment, not the 'ladies only'. I would like for the entire city to be made safe instead. #SafeCityPledge. Image courtesy Blank Noise Bog. CC BY-NC-SA 2.5

“I pledge to take the general train compartment, not the ‘ladies only’. I would like for the entire city to be made safe instead.” #SafeCityPledge. Image courtesy Blank Noise Bog. CC BY-NC-SA 2.5

Public sexual harassment or molestation of women by men, known as eve-teasing, is common in India, and New Delhi has the highest number of rape reports among Indian cities.

So when in 2008 the Delhi Metro designated four seats for women only in every train compartment with stickers reading “For Ladies Only”, joining the four seats already reserved for the disabled and elderly, many commended the effort. Twenty-five percent of the daily 2.2 million commuters are women, and it is common on the Indian sub-continent to have reserved seats for women. Metro trains also have separate women's compartments with guards preventing men from entering, and there are special public buses for women only in Delhi.

But did these measures improve the situation? It's debatable. 

In the first two years since the introduction of the women's cars in 2010, more than 12,000 men were found in them and fined a collective 3.2 million rupees (51,000 US dollars). And there are countless stories of harassment on public transport posted online at Delhi Hollaback site and elsewhere.

This blogger told the story of a female friend who was harassed for not traveling in the women's car.

Atima Dhall at RespectWomen.co.in highlighted the life of a women on the Delhi Metro:

Haggard and fatigued, I entered the women’s coach of Delhi metro. That was my first day in college and I was going back home. “Get back you men! You’ll be penalized for standing in women’s coach, came a voice from outside. The security in charge was trying to push men out of the women’s coach through her words. Typical Delhities! They unheard the security in charge, it seemed so to me at least. The doors closed and men shifted more into the women’s coach rather than moving away from it. They were staring, smiling, passing comments as if they saw the feminine crowd for the first time. “Filthy men!”, shouted a woman standing at the end of the coach.

The blogger asserted that “reserved for women” should mean reserved for women alone. “No reasons. No excuses.”

Twitter user Amith P lamented: 

Meanwhile, a tweet captured men taking up the seats reserved for women, even though a woman standing nearby holds a young child. The photo recently went viral and shocked many Delhi residents: 

Some have questioned the need for women's only seats. Prateeksha Pandey asked on Facebook:

1. Why does a woman who is not pregnant/old/injured need a seat? just because she is a woman?
2. If the situation was such that the seat should and must have gone to the woman, why is the photographer clicking pictures?
3. Clicking a picture in Delhi metro is an offense.

While others like Manal Bijoor commented:

It is a nice gesture, if a man gives up his seat to a lady/old person/ kid/handicapped or a woman giving her seat to old person/kids/handicapped. Its nothing to do with equality. Whenever i open the door or give away my seat, i always think about being selfless and sacrificing my own comfort so that someone else will get benefited from it.

The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker blog argued that reserved seats and coaches are not a special indulgence for women, but are an indication of a serious social problem:

* Women’s use of public spaces is seen as a privilege, or even as an encroachment into men’s spaces.
* Until general/public spaces become safe enough for women, society and police to stop treating them as men’s spaces, women must have means to travel.

Cluelesschick commented on the above post:

I think more effort should be put into changing the mindset. Reservation is only a temporary fix. The more we reserve, the more we are feeding the idea that it is not OK for women to be in general spaces and they should be seen only in spaces ‘reserved’ for women.

Activist communities like Please Mend The Gap are working to promote gender equality in Delhi’s public spaces. They have arranged flashmobs on Delhi Metro platforms in yellow shirts with slogans like “Share, don’t stare”, “Real men respect women”, and “Respecting women is masculine”.


  • Milind Kulkarni

    I disagree with the very first sentence in this blog which states that Public sexual harassment or molestation of women by men, known as eve-teasing, is common in India. This is absolutely non-sense. It is true that there is alarmingly increase in number of such cases which must be stopped, but women, generally, are not unsafe in India. I wonder about the western media how they try to hide their own dirt and portray as if India is home to all the evils in the world. Having said that, I strongly condemn the harassment and attacks on women, be they in India or anywhere in he world.

    • Buddy

      yes its’ not eve-teasing, it is sexual harassment which girls don’t welcome. So just stop with your nonsense teasing. It is more rampant than you think, open your eyes to see

  • B+ve

    The intention of the blog is clear. It simply wants to paint men as evils, and women as victims. The writer herself/himself writes that one fourth of total passengers in Delhi Metro are women, and this was published in other newspapers before. I wonder if she/he has cared to do any survey on the number of coaches that a metro train usually has. In 2011-12, lot of metro trains used to have only 4 coaches, and may be she/he goes back to her/his maths basics to figure out what that means in terms of percentage. And if one reserved coach can accommodate all women passengers, what is the need for women passengers to enter general compartments? (getting some free seats using the gender, perhaps, otherwise call it a harassment of women.) And if all women are not expected to reach up to the reserved coach, why reserve a full coach for women alone?

    • Buddy

      Dude, sometime girls and women are traveling with their friends and family so why can’t you be a man to offer them safety and comfort? Treat these women the way you want your female family members to be treated when they move around in the city

  • O.

    Oh lord, these comments below sound like they’re kneejerk defensive Indian men trying to deny the reality of sexual harassment in India. As an Indian woman who’s experienced “eve-teasing” firsthand, I’d like to invite B+ve and Milind Kulkarni to shut the fuck up.

    • B+ve

      I would like Ms./Mr. O. to kindly stop using these “respectable words” for men. Instead, she/he better gets a reality check in Delhi Metro and see the condition at which Men travel. Many a times men enter in the women only coaches “Not to SEXUALLY HARASS them” but simply because there is no space in the general compartments. Also, what media will never catch is, when there are empty seats in woman only coach, ladies still occupy seats in the very next general compartment where men are standing. Because, if they do, they can not please the irresponsible mass of India, which Ms./Mr. O. would love to do.

      These comments are having to be posted because otherwise the people who are being exploited are not heard. Even now it is not heard I guess.

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