Mumbai: Of late, the social media is awash with videos of women abusing and attacking each other in Mumbai’s local trains. The visuals are extremely disconcerting. The FPJ spoke to several women to find out why such incidents are taking place with increasing frequency.
Activist Dr Avisha Kulkarni said, “Women are subjected to extreme pressure because of which they blow their tops because of sheer frustration. Imagine a woman residing in Virar waking up at five in the morning, preparing breakfast for her family, packing her children’s tiffin boxes and reaching them to the school bus stop and then rushing to the station to catch a highly crowded train to Churchgate, and then boarding a BEST bus to her office. In the evening again, she has to travel in the most inhuman condition. Sometimes her fuse simply blows up.”
Sangeeta Punekar, another activist, observed that “local trains hardly have adequate space for women commuters”. She said, “They are crushed into sections of the general compartment, where there is no place even to stand. Moreover, all of them have to do unpaid jobs at home. Their stress level is very high and hence such fights take place. But I must also tell you that men find fights among women funny and they take delight in forwarding these videos.”
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Noted scholar Vibhuti Patel said, “These days all commuters are absorbed in their smartphones. Their ears are plugged and there is zero bonding unlike in the past. Earlier, commuters would become friends, chat with each other and exchange snacks. They even used to celebrate each other’s birthdays. All that is gone. Everybody is self-absorbed.”
Patel said that some time ago, she travelled from Andheri to Govandi in a women's compartment and no one exchanged even one word; all were busy watching a movie or something on their mobile phones. “In such a setting, the most trivial issue like someone touching your handbag by mistake becomes a big issue,” she said.
Jyoti Mhapsekar of Stree Mukti Sanghatana said that the root problem is shortage. “Women used to fight at common water taps because of shortage. Now there is an acute shortage of space in compartments. The number of working women has increased tremendously, but the space reserved for them is virtually the same,” she said.
“However, it is not as if fights take place only in women’s compartments. Men, too, fight in the general compartments, but no one take videos and makes them viral,” she added.