Women’s Safety in Public Transport in Delhi
By on Thursday, November 27th, 2014

Amidst an ongoing discussion on women’s safety in public space, numerous strategies to raise comfort levels and provide safety measures for female residents have been implemented throughout Delhi.

The city’s public transport networks have for instance been administered with several mechanisms in order to improve the experience for female travelers. While the Delhi metro has specifically designated women’s compartments since 2010, some auto rickshaws also boast panic buttons and gps tracking systems linked to the police which should help women in distress, although some have doubted their efficiency.

Moreover, auto rickshaw drivers have to undergo a gender sensitization workshop to renew their license, after which they can opt to attach a message of respect on the auto’s rear, reading in Hindi “this responsible auto rickshaw respects and protects women”.

App developers, too, have taken up the task, such as VithU an App which, when activated, repeatedly sends emergency alerts and the phone’s location to assigned contacts. Women living in Delhi meanwhile adopt their own safety measures such as agreeing to call each other the minute they’ve safely reached home or talking to each other on the phone while travelling home at night. They also plan their journeys and their means of getting home ahead of a night out in town in order to avoid being alone outside in the dark. Some, however, feel these precautions to be unfairly limiting for women and believe in the active demonstration of women’s right to public space even at night.

The metro’s women’s section for some also reinforces and normalises men’s claim to the general compartment. These arguments have been discussed by many women’s activist groups such as the “take back the night” campaign and the activist art platform Blank Noise.


  • The panic button on a meter in a Delhi auto rickshaw when pressed a distress should be routed to the nearest police station (far right).