Exposed! Delhi Metro, harassment and DMRC's sleeping women's helpline

I was travelling in the Delhi Metro when two men started discussing an adult film. One of them kept staring at me and abused me when I confronted him for the same.

  • According to the stickers on the Delhi Metro trains, the women's helpline number is '1091'
  • The PRO of the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) remained unavailable for a comment.
  • The helpline number was unavailable and all the calls went unanswered

New Delhi: Like any other day of the week, I stepped on to a metro train on Thursday from Pragati Maidan to come to my office in Noida. I stood near the door of the train as the entire compartment was crowded with people. I looked out of the door as I started making a mental list of things I had to do that day. An unpleasant experience was nowhere on it. 

When the train stopped at Yamuna Bank, a lot of passengers came rushing in, fighting for a place to stand. I held on to the handle on the door to prevent myself from getting pushed or shoved. I was busy on my phone when I heard two voices discussing the plot of an adult film. When I looked up, I saw a youth pointing to an apartment as he said that a young man was making a "blue film" here when his aunt caught him.

The two men started giggling, following which, one of them began narrating the plot of the "BF". I felt a little uncomfortable and decided to tune out. Within seconds, I felt what they call "the male gaze" on me. 

My first instinct was to ignore the feeling of discomfort. I tried to continue with my own thoughts when I noticed that the man standing next to me was giggling. I quickly locked my phone and started looking out of the door. As two stations passed, I noticed that the man had inched closer to me and was continuously staring.

I flew into a rage and turned to him. I asked him, "What is the problem?" He laughed at me and continued staring. Everyone in the metro chose to be silent spectators. I called the metro helpline '1091' thrice, but no one answered. Meanwhile, the man kept looking at me, as if he knew that no one would help. Appalled at the audacity of this man and let down by our system, I pointed my mobile phone at the man and started filming him. 

Unaffected with this, the man stared straight into the camera and continued smiling. After some time, he started staring in another direction but kept looking back into the camera after every few seconds. He got off at Noida Sector 16 metro station. I kept looking at the man in shock and anger as he walked out and stood on the platform. 

Before going to the staircase, the man did not break his streak of making eye contact with me as he hurled abuses while the doors of the train closed on my face. Abused for taking a stand for myself, I decided to call the helpline again. No answer. 

I got off at the next metro station and went to the staff. I was directed to a room. I quickly went to the room and asked the man if the helpline works. The staffer told me that it does. I dialed 1091 again from my mobile phone in front of the man and asked him, "This is how this works?"

I narrated the entire incident to him, following which, he told me, "Ab to kuch nahi ho sakta." He said that if the youth had come to the same metro station as me, he could have called the police and handed him over to them. He said that he would have helped me but nothing could be done now, as the man had deboarded the train a station before me. 

Not ready to give up, I decided to call the Delhi Metro Public Relations Officer (PRO). None of my calls was answered.

I have quite a few questions for the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation (DMRC) - how do you intend on making travel safer for women if you run shams in the name of helplines? I stand at a point of privilege because I am able to narrate my experience, what about children and women who go through more heinous crimes while travelling? How many more women have to be harassed for the administration to wake up? 

Source: Times Network | Author: Anubhavi Yadav 
Author published it on Sep 28, 2019

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