BENGALURU: ‘Durga alarms’ are here to bolster the safety of women commuters in the city. To help women report sexual harassment in Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) buses, 100 more panic alarms will be installed in buses of Jayanagar, Shantinagar and Banashankari depots. These will come in handy for women travelling alone and during late evening hours. The BMTC has signed a pact with DURGA (Dare to understand behaviour, respond appropriately and guard ourselves ably)— a citizens’ initiative launched by Priya Varadarajan, in this regard.
“Alarms installed earlier have been used not only for prevention of sexual harassment cases, but also for reporting chain snatching and pickpocketing in the BMTC buses. Since February, Durga alarms have been pressed at least 10 times, reveals our interaction with BMTC staffers. Sexual harassment bid on BMTC buses triggered women to press the panic button on four occasions,” said Priya.
“Soon, the panic alarm system will be integrated with the GPS location of the buses, so that every time the alarm is pressed, the Depot Manager and Traffic Command Centre of BMTC get an immediate alert,” Priya added.
The alarms, each of which costs about Rs 7,000, have been designed by students of MS Ramaiah Institute of Technology and manufactured by a Bengaluru-based firm. The project is funded by The Hans foundation.
HOW DOES THE PANIC ALARM WORK?
There are a series of switches placed on either side of the bus on the panel between the windows. The alarms are placed in such a way that even a child can access it in times of emergency. There are pictorial representations of how the alarm works to aid the passengers with language barriers. As per the protocol of the system, upon hearing the alarm, the driver will take the bus to the left-most part of the road and bring it to stop. The conductor will be able to see exactly which location the alarm was pressed, and intervene in the situation. If the situation cannot be addressed on the spot, the conductor will immediately call the Depot Manager, who will intimate police, if necessary.
1,500 DURGAS FOR A SAFE SOCIETY
As part of their ‘Safe neighbour-hood action programme,’ DURGA team has identified many underprivileged schools and colleges in Jayanagar area to spread awareness on understanding of harassment and sexual harassment and how to judge and respond in emergency situations. They plan to identify and train 1,500 ‘Durgas’ by the end of this year, who will be confident of tackling any unwanted situations alone. Some of the schools identified include Puttenahalli govt school, Gokul Vidya Kendra, Kamala Nehru School, Yediyur PUC and degree college, Girijamba college and Kamala Nehru College. Any body can be Durga (ABCD) is an online module of one hour which teaches through different videos how to tackle harassment.