BENGALURU: Nine months after its inauguration, a dedicated helpline to enable women commuters to report sexual harassment on city buses has not received a single complaint.
The helpline 1800-425-1663, set up by the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC), has two lines. The first one handles general complaints. The second line is for the caller to report misbehaviour by male commuters, conductors or drivers on the bus.
“The dedicated line for sexual harassment has not received a single complaint. We only get general queries or complaints on that line,” said Shyamala, assistant traffic manager (complaints). he 24X7 helpline is managed on the lines of call centres. “Commuters who pick the first line have to wait for a few seconds for the operator to come on line, and the calls to the second line are transferred immediately to the operator,” Shyamala said.
The officials said they have no idea why no sexual harassment cases are being reported on the line. But the commuters have different stories to tell.
“I did not even know that such a helpline exists. There have been many instances when I wanted to report misbehaviour by a conductor or sometimes commuters, especially during peak hours. I have never seen the helpline number displayed anywhere in buses,” Roshani, a marketing professional, said.
A few women who knew about the helpline also complained that calling the number is a futile exercise. “One can never get through as the call always gets dropped,” said Nisha Raut, a student who had dialled the number after a conductor misbehaved with her recently. “The other option is to complain at the depot which is an hour’s ride away,” she said.
According to data available with Express, the call centre receives an average of 550 calls every day. Among them, at least 15 are complaints. “The complaints we receive range from non-issuance of tickets to rash driving, not stopping at bus stops etc,” Shyamala said.
In November, BMTC received 12,360 calls. Of them, 11,852 were inquiries and 508 were suggestions. In the first week of December, it received a total of 3,238 calls, of which 3,131 were enquiries and 107 were complaints, she said. In November, the BMTC received a total of 173 suggestions and complaints, some of them through its website.
“We also receive complaints through columns in newspapers and letters sent to the office,” Shyamala said.