Every day women have to endure unbearable suffering in public transport in the capital. Women-friendly public transport is rare in this city. Apart from this, harassment is very common. A coach reserved for women passengers in the country’s first metro rail has come as a blessing. Female passengers on the Uttara to Motijheel route seem to have survived a lot.
Women have named this reserved coach of Metro Rail ‘Magic Box’. As the reason they say, it is not very easy for women to move safely in this city. Rickshaws, CNG-powered auto-rickshaws, buses—everywhere women face harassment. However, since the launch of Metrorail, they have got some relief from that harassment. Apart from this, Dhaka city has also been freed from traffic jams. Passengers can go to certain places in a very short time.
Capital’s public transport has long been a source of discomfort for women. Especially in times of emergency, women often have to rush to and fro in public transport while going to work. And inside the bus there was harassment from the male passengers or assistants of the bus driver. Its magnitude can be understood only by looking at the related research.
According to a 2017 survey conducted by the private organization BRAC, 94 percent of women using public transport in Bangladesh have experienced some form of sexual harassment. A similar survey by another non-governmental organization, Action Aid, published in 2023 revealed similar data. The victimization rate for harassment is reported to be 84 percent. That is, more than 80 percent of women are harassed in public transport, which is terrible. Metrorail has given great relief in this place.
Metrorail’s first coach reserved for women only. There many times a man gets forgotten but is sent to another coach through the middle door. Apart from this, women police are stationed at the stations, who prevent others from boarding women coaches. This is the first coach named ‘Magic Box’ by women.
On Sunday morning, Sadia Islam ran towards the train after pushing the long line at the ticket counter at the Mirpur 10 station of Dhaka Metro Rail with the MRT pass in hand. At 9 o’clock you have to catch the office at Kawran Bazar. For so long he used to go through various bitter experiences by bus.
Sadia Islam has been working in a private company for the past three years. But the year 2024 is very peaceful for him. In Metrorail, the very front coach is reserved for women only. He said that the journey was comfortable even though it was crowded there in the morning.
Sadia said, ‘Earlier in the morning, I had to be harassed several times when I wanted to get on the bus. Many times the bus driver did not want to pick up a woman. Apart from this, other male passengers used to say various harsh things when talking about women’s seats in the bus. But that day is gone now, I can come and go with great relief.’
Another passenger Sushma Sarkar is going to school with her children. He told the Independent, ‘The helpers did not want to take the school children on the bus. But now the days have really turned. No need to argue with anyone. Children can be taken to and fro very peacefully. Earlier, the metro rail ran only till 11 am, but now it runs all day, we are getting all the facilities.’
Many female passengers have taken the MRT Rapid Pass at once to avoid queuing up for tickets. Passengers have bought about 40,000 such MRT passes so far.
It should be noted that Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the metro rail from Uttara to Agargaon on December 28, 2022. Later, on November 4 last year, he inaugurated the Motijheel section from Agargaon. On December 31, Shahbagh and Caravanbazar stations of the metro rail were launched. And from January 20 this year, the metro rail is running from morning to night from Uttara North station to Motijheel section.