By Olindhi Jayasundere
In a shocking exposure it has been found that one in every four women in the country are being subjected to harassment daily when using public transport.
Deputy Transport Minister Rohana Dissanayake yesterday said these figures were found during a research conducted recently. The Minister said a large number of women were being subjected to verbal and physical abuse in buses and trains each day. He said this has contributed to the decline in the use of public transport by passengers in recent times.
The Minister said the issue needed to be effectively addressed to ensure that women were afforded their fundamental rights and to ensure the public transport system did not take a downward plunge. “Steps have already been taken to introduce new awareness programmes and workshops next month for both the private and SLTB bus drivers and conductors to educate them on the importance of providing better services for women without any harassment and abuse in buses,” he said.
Ministry sources said such programmes would also be introduced in the railway sector in the future. Ministry sources said bus passengers could make their complaints to 011 7555 555 if they were subjected to any harassment when using public transport.
In 2009, 56,590,210 passengers travelled in private buses while 175,000 passengers used SLTB buses. These numbers are now declining, transport ministry sources said. “If we take action to provide better transport facilities for women they will not have any fear to use public transport” he said.