The other day I witnessed such a fight, heated enough to neutralize the cooling of the air-conditioned bus in Delhi. Everybody in the bus had their own view on whether there should be reserved seats for women or not. Those against this idea had only one point, “Women demand gender equality on one hand and special privileges of the reserved seats on the other! Ironical!”.
And I, as just another witness with an opinion, disapprove to accept the point that the reserved ladies’ seats are a “privilege” whatsoever. No! I am not a hardcore feminist who blindly supports the provision of the reserved seats for the women in public transports. There are some scientific and social facts that any reason-gifted mind can understand, and make a rational opinion upon, rather then empty rambling about the ever-debatable issue. Here, I have concentrated some food for your thought and the reasons so as to why there should be a ladies’ seat—
1. The very anatomical body framework and physiological capacity of a woman is such that she can not stand for as long as a man can. Ever seen a man getting breathless, nauseate, vomit or faint in a crowded bus on usual basis? No? But a woman does, because she is more delicate and sensitive to the physical environment than a man. And this sensitivity does not imply a “weakness” but her very being, The Womanhood. And, there is no sneaking away from this natural fact. A woman can willingly be iron-minded but not iron-fisted. The optimum time-period for standing at a stretch comfortably is much less for a woman than for a man.
2. Did you know that an alarming 52 percent of Indian women, and about 88 percent of the pregnant ones suffer from anæmia? To keep in the simplest words, anæmia means lesser blood circulation in the body than required to keep healthy and to work efficiently. And this is as much true for the woman belonging to the affluent classes, as is for the one belonging to lower socio-economic strata of the country. The reason is attributed to the faulty nutrition practices prevalent in the Indian society. With such a sorry state of health-stats, it is highly troublesome for a weak, lethargic and prone-to-faint-attacks Indian woman to bear the burden of prolonged standing in a crowded, stinking Delhi bus.
3. Every woman of the reproductive age group (14-45 years of age) spends 5 days per month in their menstrual cycle (just another normal process exclusive to women). No matter what I say, a man can never understand the amount of distress and pain a woman passes through during this period. To say the least, the pain due to a broken leg would be less than what some women suffer from during this natural phase. Now imagine having to keep standing with a broken leg! And, to add to it, a giant man crushing the feet and least concerned to apologize for the same! Thanks to the male-driven and male-oriented social and official norms, this period requiring rest is not even considered for a medical leave, leave alone bestowing offs to the girls and woman during this time. And yes, they travel standing in the buses with the least physical ability during this period.
4. A similar state of affairs go for a pregnant woman. There is a period of almost 5 months before she appears to be evidently pregnant with a protruding belly. Fatigue, malaise and fainting are more common in these early months of hidden pregnancy than the ones that get evident later, when a few decent men might offer the lady a seat out of courtesy or chivalry.
So yes! There must be ladies’ seat, where these categories of women can righteously comfort themselves without having to announce to the world in distress, “we need one!”
5. Moving on with age, did you have an idea that all forms of arthritis, joint pains and bone-weakening disease like osteoporosis are more common in middle-aged women than men? No! Then do know! They are. As a victim of such natural pathological tendencies, a woman with stiff, painful and cracking joints deserves to sit on an available seat more than a man with well-functioning joints at a similar age.
6. The daily schedule of a working woman starts at the speed of machinery from around 5am in the morning, and runs all through the day untiringly. So what if they do not want to be standing in the bus on their way to office, after a sprint schedule at home! It’s all easy for a man to ramble nonsense having been served the all-prepared breakfast on the bed like a royal, while the lady herself might have got no seconds to take what she has herself been cooking since morning! Same goes the story on her way back from office, a list of household chores awaiting her desperately. Talk of gender equality? Huh! Talk equal division of labour too!!
7. Promise and provide me a journey safe and immune to eve-teasing and physical harassment in public transport and I will drop my support for the ladies’ seat, neglecting the above mentioned facts for once! Bleak seems the possibility, right? So does mine, going against these reservations. Why should I be a hapless victim of a perverted moron when a simple seat can bring me mental calmness and physical safety? I would better raise my voice for a ladies’ seat than fighting these morally-challenged eve-teasers found in every public transport.
Yes ladies and gentlemen! All this is a matter of one seat. The Ladies’ Seat. No! I am not demanding some reservation in an educational institute or a service commission. There, a woman can show her mental steel, intelligence and diligence to fetch a seat, stand up to and prove the gender equality. What I am supporting is a much required basic facility, not the privilege, to make a woman’s journey safe and concordant with her physiological needs. Those who consider it a “privilege” must understand what she might be paying to avail this “privilege” can never even be afforded by a man. So a flat refusal and ardent argument on being asked to vacate a ladies’ seat would be just another hollow show of male chauvinism. So hold it!
Trust me folks you might not get as many points to prove why the man holding the head-chair of the nation is holding it for, as I have given to you on why women deserve the ladies’ seat. Howsoever hard I try, I can’t make out those points too. Anyway that’s not the issue again.
The topic of concern, and the final point I make, is that we, The Woman, would better claim a rightfully-reserved ladies’ seat than depending on the mercy of a decent man (are there any left, by the way?).