Ha Noi to introduce women-only buses during peak hours

Update: December, 25/2014 - 08:59
Buses pick up passengers in Ha Noi's Cau Giay District. The capital city plans to operate women-only buses to counter sexual harassment and stealing. — VNA/VNS Photo Minh Quyet

HA NOI (VNS) — The capital city administration plans to operate women-only buses on certain routes during peak hours on trial basis as a move to counter sexual harassment and stealing.

It has instructed the Ha Noi Transport and Services Corporation (Transerco) to implement this plan.

Nguyen Quoc Hung, Vice Chairman of the Ha Noi People's Committee, said at a conference on Tuesday that women-only buses should be introduced in areas where female workers and students were vulnerable to sexual assault.

He said the move aimed to combat sexual harassment of women and girls in public transport.

A survey of 2,046 people, conducted recently in Ha Noi and HCM City, showed that 57 per cent of the women aged 16 and above felt sexual harassment was most likely to happen on the streets.

As many as 87 per cent of the surveyed women and girls said that they had experienced sexual harassment in various forms, including being whistled and stared at, having their physical appearance commented upon and being teased and touched on sensitive parts of their bodies.

About 31 per cent of school girls said they'd suffered sexual harassment on buses.

The survey was conducted by ActionAid Viet Nam and the Research Centre for Gender, Family and Environment in Development.

Previously, the National Trafic Safety Committee had asked the city to identify locations, public transport routes and road sections where sexual harassment occurs most often.

Female studens harassed

Lan Phuong, a student of the Military Medicine Institute, said she had seen female students being harassed on the old route plied by bus No39.

"It happened when the bus was overcrowded," she said. "Everyone will put up with slight touches, but more than that is really annoying."

However, she said, most victims ignored it. Some only turned back and looked angrily at the harasser.

Nguyen Viet Trieu, deputy director of Transerco, said that over the past eight months, the corporation's hotline had received more than 43,000 calls from passengers. Of these just five reported sexual harassment of buses, he said.

However, Trieu admitted that overloaded buses during peak hours were likely to be used to pick pockets or sexually harass women.

He said the corporation had set up a customers' service room to receive complaints about service quality from 5am to 11pm. The hotlines of the corporation, the city's transport department and the police department as well as the corporation's website were printed on all buses, he said.

The corporation would work with the police when it received complaints, he added. — VNS