Forum discusses whether women should be protected on public transport

Forum discusses whether women should be protected on public transport
Participants at the women's forum. Photo: Thura/Mizzima

Women Rights Affairs In-charge Khai Zar Lin of ActionAid Myanmar said that a safe and secure environment should be created for women passengers on public transport to protect them from being sexually harassed on these vehicles.
“I think the State should establish a protection system for women passengers and should create a social environment for these women to protect them from dangers rather than the women having to protect themselves,” said Khai Zar Lin.
Reports of women being sexually harassed on public transport systems including buses, taxis, trains and boats are commonly seen on social media.
Khai Zar Lin added that the security arrangement should be established for the women during their commute especially from their homes to their workplaces on public transport.
But Yangon Region Women Affairs Federation Chairperson Aye Aye Myint said that women should be ready to defend themselves using self-defence.
“All women should be alert individually for self-defence and for their security. They should be constantly alert for their safety rather than expecting a defence support system provided by the surroundings. They should not rely on others for their safety,” Yangon Region Women’s Affairs Federation Chairperson Aye Aye Myint said.
Khai Zar Lin said that sexually harassment against women and acts that threaten the modesty of women on the public transport system is a punishable and criminal offence which carries severe punishment so that if this fact is made well known these crimes may diminish.
Private transport company staff member No No Lin said that she wished the taxis were  company-owned taxis and that commuter buses run without bus conductors.
“If a woman is alone on a taxi or bus, it will not be easy for this woman to respond to the outrage of modesty of women committed on these vehicles. It will be dangerous for her. So she can call a friend by phone or pretend to call her friend or she may open the door and call for help,” No No Lin said.
It was recently reported that a female school teacher was shown a porn video on bus by a fellow male passenger sitting beside her and also women passengers were sexually harassed on taxis by the taxi drivers through indecent gestures and other means.
This sexual harassment against women and outraging of modesty of women are punishable offences under section 509 of the Penal Code (insulting the modesty of women by word or gesture), section 294 of Penal Code (causing annoyance by obscene acts and songs) and section 354 of Penal Code (assault on women with intent to outrage her modesty) which carry punishment of imprisonment from a minimum 3 months to a maximum 2 years or a fine or both.