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article imageIndian women slapping men who ride on women-only carriages

By Kev Hedges     Nov 29, 2010 in Travel
Last year India Railways introduced several women-only trains in Delhi, Mumbai (Bombay), Calcutta and Madras (Chennai). Aimed solely to provide a safer travelling environment for the female commuter, the trains are often infiltrated by men.
It has proven to be a big hit with India's women who are fast becoming independent, assertive and even an air of authority about them. For many years, most suburban trains have had a couple of coaches reserved for women. But some men always force their way into their compartments. Some years ago the authorities began a drive to punish men who ride in women-only coaches, called a "Bhairavi", but the campaign did not work.
One commuter, Sangeeta, told BBC's Geeta Pandey, says that men would regularly "pinch, touch and harass women". But now the women are taking a hard-line stance on errant men who travel illicitly. Men can expect to be dragged by the hair, or often grabbed by the ears and slapped around the head, and when the train arrives at the next stop, train staff join in on the slapping in a clear bid to humiliate the men, who feel that if women can ride on the carriages men ride on, then why can't they ride on the women's coach.
The Ladies' Specials are the brainchild of Railways Minister Mamata Bannerji, who announced the service in last year's railways finance budget. Sheila Sharma is a seasoned traveller of 25 years on Indian railways, and she speaks for many Indian women when she hails the man-free coaches:
This is a godsend. We've been waiting for something like this for so long. We fought for a long time and then we got two coaches for women in local trains. But it was not enough, there were so many women. We didn't find space to sit. We used to feel so tired standing during the journey. But now we sit comfortably and the travel is good.
Security is often tight on the women-only carriages. A mixture of male and female constables from the Railway Protection Force (RPF) patrol the aisles. Although most men comply with the ruling, some are unhappy, and specifically point out that Indian men travel with their wives or families as tradition.
The women who are now enjoying this fresher, more comfortable way to travel, are not allowing those menfolk who dare to break the male curfew an inch.
VIDEO WARNING - Contains scenes of mild assault
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