Women comprise 30% of Mumbai’s train commuters but account for barely 11% of the number of deaths on suburban railway tracks. The figures suggest that males are more prone to taking risks while travelling by local trains whereas women opt for safety first.
This year, 3,200 accidental railway deaths were recorded; only 352 of these were women.
A senior railway official said, “Only 25% of the train space is set aside for women.These ladies compartments are extremely crowded during peak hours, yet women manage to travel safely even though their clothing or the bags they carry hamper their mobility .“ Railway officials and experts feel the data shows that while lack of space may not be a contribut ing problem, the difference in attitude to safety is definitely a factor in male commuters making up nearly 90% of all fatalities. A Railway Protection Force (RPF) official sa id, “Men, particularly those in the 16-25 age group, have a tendency to attract attention by engaging in daredevil stunts. This is the reason why they indulge in risky stunts or undertake roof-top travel.“
Psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty said, “Women not only look after others, they are also more methodical and organized. Hence, they tend to plan their journey early unlike men, who tend to pack their belongings at the last minute and try to make up for lost time by taking undue risks while travelling.“
He added that men suffer more casualties because they more casualties because they sacrifice safety measures for the sake of their ego.
Railway activist Lata Ar gade said, “There is severe overcrowding in ladies com partments too but I have seen women travel from Dombivli in the down direction to Kaly an or Thakurli to board a train back towards CST. Also, young males are physically stronger and feel that they can somehow manage to get inside the coach by hanging on the footboard of a crowded compartment, thus risking their lives.“ None of the13 deaths cau sed by hitting a pole in 2015 involved a woman. This statistic not only indicates eschewing of unnecessary risk by female commuters but also highlights that women are more accommodating.
Another activist, Bhavesh Patel, said, “There are groups of men who don’t allow peo ple to board the train at particular stations. However, male commuters tend to defy this aggression by managing to get a toehold, which can often prove fatal.“
Dr Rita Savla of Radhee Disaster and Education Foundation, said, “Fifteen years ago the number of women fatalities was much lower, around 3%. But it has increased because of issues like the widening gap between the platform and footboard; some women lose their balance while trying to hold on to their mobile or their purse. However, one thing is certain: very few women board or alight from a running train.“
Dombivli resident Priyanka V said, “For men, the day starts and ends with office while we have to household chores before and after work.Despite that, women plan their commute and reach office on time even though we have to skip a few trains due to overcrowding.“
Times of India Mumbai