Reservation in the bus and peripheral problems!

Over the last two days, I was part of a conversation that can be seen as a metaphor for the way ‘the privileged’ look at reservation. (Read this one about privilege – some interesting points made). I’ll leave the metaphorical interpretations to you and make a few points that I wish to strictly about reserving seats for women in buses.

When are reservations needed (or administered) 

My personal experience tells me that reservations are needed (or administered) in situations where there is a one has been historically marginalised (or even is being marginalised).

All reservations – based on caste/ creed/ race/ gender – are aimed at lending a helping hand to a group that has been marginalised and need help to reach even moderate levels of equality and acceptability. How this reservation is handed out is perhaps a topic of debate but you cannot argue generally that reservation is bad. Again I am digressing. This is about BMTC alone.

Now then, there is a reservation of seats in buses (16 out of about 64 seats in Bangalore and 50% in Chennai – as some Chennai folks tell me) to ensure women are given equal (or near equal) opportunity to avail facilities. Reservation, by definition, is a claim to something. If 50% seats are reserved for women, it’s understood that a woman is entitled to it and can be used by others in case there is no woman to claim it – same goes for seats reserved for the elderly and disabled as well. Given that, a man is expected to get up from his seat and give way to a woman who is entitled to it, by law.

If that is clear, here are some scenarios.

Scenario 1: If a man is seated on a women’s seat and a woman is standing. He is expected to give it up for a woman who claims it – social protocol says he must volunteer, but then who cares, right? So, when the seat is unclaimed, he can stay seated there as long as he wishes.

Scenario 2: If a man is using a seat reserved for a woman and a woman claims it, he has to give it up. Legally, it is her seat. Now, all you standing on your moral high grounds can argue about the right-ness of a woman to claim it. But she is entitled to it. She claims it.

Scenario 3: This is the interesting part. If a woman is seated in what is not reserved for women, she may not be legally asked to give up her seat simply because it is not reserved for a man. It is simply not reserved for a woman/ transgender/ elderly/ physically challenged or whoever else. That seat is available on first-come-first-served basis. If you have problems with that law, go fight in the court. DO NOT go around breaking the law. That is like saying – “I don’t think a licence is a fair way to judge my driving skills. So, I will drive around without it.” Absurd, to say the least.

In this context, let me bring in all the relevant and irrelevant points.

The relevant ones:

The point about women given the reservation of seats because they are often sexually harassed by men is greatly valid. More often than not, it is the men that harass the women. One of the reasons the law of reservation exists is to protect women from such situations.

The point about giving the marginalised an opportunity to speak up for themselves is very valid. In this case, women are often victims of patriarchy. 50 years ago, a woman would have been petrified of asking a man to give her a seat – mostly even standing out of respect to men, stranger or otherwise. So, a reservation gave them claim to it. This is greatly relevant even today.

The irrelevant ones

Chennai is more cultured than Bangalore – Great! Keep the change! (Oh yes. I am feminist you see? I have no sense of humour. Sorry).

About sexual harassment – if your point is that there are assholes among women and therefore they should not be entitled to reservation, it is irrelevant. All men in the world did not get murdered because some are rapists. So, sorry.

If it outrages you that all women are playing victims because they are even now being deprived of what is rightfully theirs, you are irrelevant. No you are not. You are actually harmful to the idealistic aim of equality in society.

Reservation will not save women from gropers. #ok

Anyway, the point is irrelevant arguments like these are the reason anti-dowry law is lobbied to be withdrawn (look at points 12 & 13). You may also look here and here.

And in the end, if you have half a thing to say, please type it out in the comments section. I am not an expert in reservation and I’d like to hear from you if I’ve been mistaken. Try and keep it relevant though! :)

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8 thoughts on “Reservation in the bus and peripheral problems!

  1. I do often see many women here dont speak up ( my personal experience) when the seat is occuppied by a male. But on the contrary during my last visit to Madras (you see i hate calling it as Chennai) the women seat was rightfully claimed by a woman and i was awed by her guts.

  2. but in chennai ,i have seen some of the buses having clear demarcation for men and women separately. I agree with your point that women are marginalized due to our patriarchal society. The impact is so deep that even women who are highly placed in the society, still prefer marrying men with a higher paycheck….

  3. ur right Ranjani.. if women were not suppressed(before and even now).. the reservation wudn’t have come into picture.. wat Government does is right.. in Chennai, women doesn’t hesitate to claim their rights.. nowadays even if the reserved seats are vacant, we men doesn’t occupy the seats.. :)

  4. This one is a no-brainier. Women do deserve the 50% explicit reservation for travelling in public transport. Even without taking in the groping factor which is very valid, they got other points in their favor – they have relatively more complex attires (sarees, heeled footwear etc), their discomfort in being seated next to unknown men (which is justified) and that they are less monkey-like when compared to men (jumping, running and punching-through to find a seat).
    I don’t know about B’lore but in Chennai if a women wants to claim a seat that is rightfully hers and if the fellow occupying it does not comply then the ticket conductor is brought in to settle the dispute. Not sure why B’lore has 25% reservation, maybe because it was initially just a sleepy town (unlike Chennai a metro) and the old laws have stuck around. Or if it is because 25% is the national average and TN having had a women CM multiple times has got better laws in this regard. I am curious which one it is.

    But you are wrong about the dowry laws, they are NOT being withdrawn but recommended to be amended. Right now 498A is non-bailable and non-compoundable. Which means your sister-in-law can with a single FIR (no evidence required) can have you, your brother, your father and mother put in jail. And all of you would remain in jail for the duration of the case (if my understanding is correct). This was made this way to protect women from the intimidation of the husband’s family members. Now if the woman and her family are just as strong and influential as her husband and his family, which is the case in a lot of city marriages then this law is just begging to be abused in an unhappy marriage.
    So the proposed amendment is to make this a bailable and compoundable law so that you, your brother, mother and father could get bail during the period of the case and if your sister-in-law is willing then settle matter outside of court.
    I think the judges will only consider the bail and compounding option after looking at the background of both the girl and boy’s side which is fair if you ask me. I am not a lawyer or legal expert so take this with a grain of salt.

    Forgive me for creating an angry sister-in-law, it was only to help me explain this better, am sure in reality she would be as level-headed as you are :)

    • I was talking to someone about the reservation in Chennai for women in buses and he was saying that 50% isn’t really the case. In Bangalore, it is supposed to be 33%, I believe but from what I noticed it was 16/64.

      Discomfort in clothing is no reason – people should wear clothes they are comfortable in. My grandmother wears madisaar every day and trust me she can do even kambu sandai in it.

      About the angry sister-in-law, I see your point, thank you! :)

      • Yes, I stand corrected, it is more like 33%. And also there are ladies-special trains during peak hours, think there is a similar system for buses as well, not sure.
        One more thing about 498A which I missed was that in most cases it is the lawyers who instigate their female clients to use this clause as revenge or as a threat to get better divorce settlement. The more complicated a case becomes the more money the lawyer makes.

  5. It’s a waste to reserve seats on buses for women/men. Let’s not differentiate seats based on gender. It’ll make buses more crowded. Bus seats should be for either sex, or there can be women’s only(special) buses.

  6. these feminists cry over ‘hey, injustice,injustice..’, bcaz they lack romance in theri life.
    women are not suppressed, they given special privilege to need not work,and enjoy men hardwork.
    they given priveleged role of women of reproducion and caring.

    what these estrogenless feminists want???

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