After the state government announced free travel for women in the government buses, scores of complaints have been coming on a daily basis from various bus stations regarding insults showered on women.
Sudha Selvaraj, an employee of a private company in Trichy told IANS, "We are being treated as second class citizens in the Tamil Nadu buses. I feel insulted daily hearing the bad words from the bus drivers and conductors. I have sent a complaint to the Tamil Nadu minister for transport and if there is no action, will try to send a letter to the Chief Minister."
While the government has announced and implemented the scheme of free travel to women and transpeople in buses of Tamil Nadu, the lower-level workers have not fully assimilated the spirit of the decision.
Tamil Nadu Minister for Transport, R.S. Rajakannappan told IANS, "It is unfortunate and I have also received some complaints. The transport ministry will be conducting training programmes for the drivers and conductors on behaviour towards women, and eminent social scientists will take the classes.
"The classes will be conducted at the district level. Transport department will take stringent action against those bus employees who have indulged in insulting and showering abuses to women and police will also register cases and act accordingly."
While the state government and the Tamil Nadu transport department had conducted several workshops on behavioural sciences, the result seems to have not been percolated down the order.
Mahalakshmi, a 70 year old woman at Triplicane, Chennai while speaking to IANS said, "The driver used to insult me whenever I board a bus. They used to make lewd comments that we are guests and that the government of Tamil Nadu has done a wrong thing in providing free rides to women. Young women are subjected to more teasing and insults."
Dr. R. Rajeev, Psychologist and a regular at classes on behavioural sciences told IANS, "Some people have the illusion that the organisation where they work is owned by them and while women travel in the state transport buses, these drivers and conductors believe as if they are on the losing side. Moreover, some people do not give respect to women at all and these factors are underlying beneath such behaviour. This can be corrected after a few sessions and let us see how it is working out."
In some cases, driven to the wall, women have filed police complaints. Helen Antony, who is working as a helper in a school in Chennai, told IANS, "I have lodged a complaint in the police station against a bus conductor for having insulted me for a long. The police have called me to depose before the SHO on Friday. I will not withdraw the complaint. A government that has announced a scheme with good intentions is being taken to task by the rude behaviour of certain people and there has to be a solution to this."
If the state government authorities are not taking this seriously, a proposal which was implemented on good intention may soon boomerang on the government and the DMK. With the local body elections round the corner, the government officials are in course correction and to clear the issue as early as possible.