Ladies Only ~ Should There Be Demarcated Seats Everywhere?
Every bus, every tram, every metro will inevitably bear a distinctly different category of seats with the following two words etched just on top of it: “Ladies only.” We have all grown so accustomed to it that perhaps we do not even notice it separately. Women heave a sigh of relief if they find the reserved seats empty and hurry along to occupy them before the rest, while the men know they are not to tread on that territory. It has almost been kind of etched into our subconscious.
However, if we pause once and let this everyday occurrence seep a little deeper into our psyche, it might provide food for thought. Does this demarcation of seats allow more honour and respect to women, in any way? Perhaps yes. It is society’s way of showing that women should be treated with special care, and allocating separate seats to them ensures that many of them do not have to travel in a troublesome way. Yes, if a man is seated on it, a woman can ask him to vacate it for her; of course, a gentleman will readily oblige, while a “not-so-gentleman” often chooses to refuse, remains indifferent or squabbles back. Everybody has their personal opinion as to whether “ladies only” seats should exist at all. Their point being that if women demand gender equality on one hand, it is ironical for them to expect special privileges, even in the form of exclusive seats in public conveyances. However, there are certain reasons as to why for years, this system has been continuing, and hopefully, the points that are in favor of this aren't too difficult to be understood by a rational and sensible individual.
The very anatomical framework and physiological capacity of a woman does not allow her to stand for very long, being more sensitive to the external environment than a man. Of course, that does not qualify as weakness, rather, it is an inherent part of “womanhood”, which in no way, lessens her mental strength. A large percentage of women in India also suffer from anemia which makes her susceptible to dizzy spells, and thus she is unable to withstand prolonged standing in crowded buses. Also, other reasons such as pregnancy, physical ailments such as arthritis, joint pains, osteoporosis etc. are far more common amongst middle-aged women than in men. Being victims of such pathological tendencies, they deserve a seat that they can exclusively comfort themselves in. The daily schedule of a working woman is also often far more hectic and strenuous than most men, what with she having to devote equal labor to household chores before and after her working hours outdoors.
Safety is another important issue that is often at stake in these modes of transport. Eve-teasing, catcalls, physical harassment etc. are rampant occurrences in public transport, against which women need some sort of protection, which can partially be ensured by reserving exclusive seats for them. Raising a voice against such perverted, morally depraved rogues seem to be of no point, so it is but more feasible for women to seek a peaceful, safe journey by comforting herself in a “ladies only” seat. It is thus a facility, and not a privilege, to provide a safe journey to women, concordant with her physical needs.
It can be viewed in the other way round, as well. The system of demarcated seats only reinforces the belief that women are the “weaker” sex and therefore they are in need of that special care. This idea that women are fragile, delicate and vulnerable often serves to lower their self-confidence and thus generations after generations, the female folks are being fed with the inbred notion that they are given such treatment not because they deserve it, but because they need it. Women are gradually growing out of the age-old stereotypes held about women, and since they are rubbing shoulders with men in every walk of life, the system of reserving exclusive seats for them in public transport should be done away with, so as to proclaim the message of the contemporary era loud and clear- women are no less than men, and they are strong and steely enough to endure the daily hassles of a modern lifestyle. “Ladies only” seats will only serve to segregate her and make her feel inferior to her male counterparts, and thus all the hue and cry for the implementation of gender equality will be rendered futile and pointless.