Stop complaining ladies, men get harassed on buses too!

Published: October 9, 2013

Men are treated far worse than women when they are about to board or depart the bus. In case of men, the driver never cares to slow down, let alone stop.

‘Mardon ko toh koi tameez hi nahi hoti ke bus mien kis tarah safar karna hai!’ 

(Men have no manners at all regarding how to travel on a public bus)

This was a phrase that I came across last week when I was waiting at a bus stop. The words came from a middle aged woman, standing a few feet away from me, conversing with her colleague. On hearing this, a rush of anger took over me, but before I could say anything to her, my bus arrived and I had to board.

Dear women, I understand that you get treated badly in our patriarchal society and that the men around you might make life a living hell, but believe me when I say this; you are not the sole sufferers – men have it way worse than you do.

Not that there is anything wrong in travelling via public transport, but the way men are treated by the driver and the conductor is what makes the ordeal all the more torturous for us.

Don’t believe me?

Here are a few reasons why men have it worse than women do when travelling on public transport.

The annoying conductor

Have you ever been pushed, hit or threatened by a bus conductor?

Never?

Well that is probably because most conductors talk to you in a respectful manner. However, conductors are not as chivalrous with the male species as they are with women.

From verbally haranguing male passengers, to physically pushing, abusing and even hitting them at times, nothing stops the conductor from getting his way on a bus. If he wants you to cram together and get away from the entrance, he will make sure that not a single corner in the bus is left empty.

Even at stops, the conductor works towards getting as many passengers as he can, even if their number exceeds capacity. He shouts out names of destinations, all the while urging other male passersby to travel on that bus too, sometimes even physically pulling them in whether they want to travel in that particular direction or not!

Men, to the conductor, are unintelligible animals that need to be treated like a herd of sheep, whereas women are royalty. All the shouting and pushing makes many of the male passengers angry and frustrated and even worse when, at the same time, the conductor greets the women with respect and gives them their due to time to settle in comfortably before moving on to his next male target.

The occasional drug addict

Have you ever had to share a seat with a drug addict?

Have you ever had to take his greasy head off of your shoulder as he doses away in oblivion?

Have you ever had to shower and change your clothes as soon as you reach home because you smell like hashish or charas?

I am guessing not.

Well yes, men experience all that and more whilst travelling. I am not saying that no woman has ever had to go through similar experiences, but the probability of coming across a male drug addict on a public bus is far greater than that of a female drug addict.

This category also includes the pan eaters. While squirting their residue out through their blood red teeth, they don’t really care if some of it falls on you because you are sitting next to the window. At that point, you wish nothing more than to cut the piece of your flesh off where that repulsive thing fell. You never feel clean after that.

The exceptionally congested bus

Have you ever been slapped by a man because you accidently placed your hand on their shoulder, thinking it was a support rod?

I bet you haven’t, and God help the man who ever mistakenly did manage to hit a woman. As they say, ‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.’

And if nothing else, a few tears is all it takes for the entire male population to stand by your side and beat the man up for being ‘disrespectful’, albeit, mistakenly.

A man being hit, however, is a totally different story. I am sure many men have experienced this while travelling in a congested bus. Being packed in the back like a herd of sheep, there are many times men have to enter the female section of the bus, pertaining to lack of space. This is done primarily out of necessity. Yet many women, blind to the fact that almost half of Karachi is travelling via that particular vehicle, make an issue and give dirty looks to the men who are in their compartment. Labels such as loffar, beghairat (shameless), jahil (uneducated) and badtameez (disrespectful) are given to these innocent men, without hesitation.

I always try to board a less congested bus whenever I can. However, this one time, I was getting really late for university and had no choice but to get on the first bus that came my way.

Unfortunately, the bus was filled to its capacity (the conductor had done his job well) and so I had to enter from the women’s compartment. While getting on, I had to take support of the handle which is at the entrance of the gate. In the rush of the bus not stopping and other passengers behind me urging to get on, I grabbed on and finally entered the bus. What I did not realise was that a woman had placed her hand on the handle as well and I had taken hold of her hand while getting on, purely by mistake. With a loud shriek, the woman almost pushed me out of the bus and then began shouting at the top of her voice, as to how I had ‘taken advantage of the crowd’ and abused her.

It was perhaps one of the most embarrassing moments of my life.

Hence, men are in danger from both sides, either of being crushed under the tremendous amount of passengers from the male section or of being in constant fear that they might get off balance and fall on a comfortably seated woman, letting all hell loose.

The upper floor

People who say Karachi doesn’t have double-decker buses need a reality check. In Karachi, every bus has the capacity of becoming a double story vehicle – that is, of course, if the annoying conductor wants it to happen.

With brute force, the conductor takes advantage of the passengers’ need to travel and inconsiderately asks them to climb up on top of the bus, where there is virtually nothing but the upper part of the roof. Hence if someone slips or falls, they are either incompetent to travel on such a world class vehicle, or are too weak and so are ‘unmanly’.

Again, no woman is ever asked to go and climb on top of a bus. It is the men who get this treatment, regardless of scorching heat, rain or a bone-biting winter breeze waiting for them upstairs.

Getting off the bus

When was the last time a conductor pushed you off the bus, while it was moving on full speed, so that he can clear the doorway for other passengers?

Probably never.

In fact, most definitely never.

Well, this is almost a norm for men.

Men are treated far worse than women when they are about to board or depart the bus. In case of men, the driver never cares to slow down, let alone stop. Hence it’s a now or never situation. If they get off in time, great. If not, then tough luck. The smartest thing to do in this situation is to wait until a woman gets off the bus.

Why?

Because no matter how hurried the passengers may be, and no matter what the situation is, the bus ALWAYS stops for women, whether they are getting on or off it. The driver categorically hits the breaks and halts the vehicle, even in the middle of the road, for the women to get down with ease.

As if men do not have the need, or the right, to be subjected to such ease and kindness. I have slipped so many times while getting off the bus that I am surprised I am still in one piece!

So, in conclusion, dear women, yes men treat you unkindly, but in public buses, men are the victims, not women.

A bus symbolises the mental torture, humiliation, frustration, physical pain and in some cases, even injury, which awaits us before we board. So the next time you make a comment about how uncivilised men in buses are, think again.

Faiq Lodhi

Faiq Lodhi

A journalism grad and news-buff, his interests include current affairs, arts, literature and social work. He tweets as @FaiqLodhi (twitter.com/FaiqLodhi)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Saad

    I can understand your pain Bro ! :DRecommend

  • Nadeem Akram

    Why is it that the maximum limit on the Blog window is 800 words, yet Blog after Blog on ET has more than a 1000 words. How do one get away with this?Recommend

  • Sarah B. Haider

    Your arguments might be valid but holding a comparison between the kind of treatment that women are subjected to while travelling in a bus, doesn’t make sense.

    1. Have you ever been pushed, hit or threatened by a bus conductor?

    When the female compartment is empty with one or two females, then bus conductors can go to any extent. Many a time women complain that they (the conductors) brush against them or prefer to hang at the entrance of the bus when it is over crowded with females. Not to forget how they go back to the gents’ compartment with your remaining money, and upon demanding for the remainder, you get to hear “Kha nahi jaaonga paisay tumharay.” Very respectful towards the ladies, eh?

    2. Have you ever had to share a seat with a drug addict?

    No, but at times, the driver turns out to be a ghutka cum sex addict.
    Ask any woman who has gone through the horror of sitting next to the
    driver on that engine cum seat. Out of the blue, he would stare at your body,
    brush his hands against your arms or buttocks every time he changes the gear.
    Or the tharki men who sit on the seats right behind the ladies’ compartment
    and often place their hands under a woman’s rear when she is
    about to sit. Ever felt people ogling you head to toe if you are not covering
    your head and treat you like you are either naked or a slut? Not to forget the
    finger that suddenly pinches your arm while you rest against the back of the
    seat. I guess encountering a drug addict is better than being
    sexually harassed.

    3. The exceptionally congested bus

    Yes, women too have to bear the “andhi ho kia” when you accidentally place your hand on another woman’s shoulder. You too have to bear comments like “England se aayi hain kia” when you frown if someone steps on your new slippers. Women also have to endure the badtameezi when you try to grab an empty seat and a woman would snap back “maine bachay ka kiraya diya hai, yahan woh baithay ga”. Not to forget the paseenay kii badboo that surrounds you when women in sweat drenched abayas lift their arms to hold the supporting rod and that too in an extremely confined ladies’ compartment.

    4. So, in conclusion, dear women, yes men treat you unkindly, but in public
    buses, men are the victims, not women.

    How could you say that so easily that women are NOT the victims? First, they travel in an extremely confined space, then they get sexually harassed whereas men only have to face a few troubles that are part of public transport and common to both men and women (like space, encounter with douches, etc). Moreover, “Unkindly” is a very small word to describe sexual harassment that women have to endure.

    Overall, a very biased piece. You could have taken your frustration out on the particular woman who called you names, but no man in a patriarchal society like Pakistan is innocent!Recommend

  • Kushal

    “”From verbally haranguing male passengers, to physically pushing, abusing and even hitting them at times, nothing stops the conductor from getting his way on a bus. If he wants you to cram together and get away from the entrance, he will make sure that not a single corner in the bus is left empty.

    Even at stops, the conductor works towards getting as many passengers as he can, even if their number exceeds capacity. He shouts out names of destinations, all the while urging other male passersby to travel on that bus too, sometimes even physically pulling them in whether they want to travel in that particular direction or not!

    Men, to the conductor, are unintelligible animals that need to be treated like a herd of sheep, whereas women are royalty.””

    I am amazed how things in Pakistan are so similar to parts of India.Recommend

  • Umar Hussain

    finally some one stood up for men’s rightRecommend

  • Guest

    App bhi likh lain long comment bhai sahab. Who stops you?Recommend

  • Sheema Khan

    I have totally understood what it is like inside a bus although i don’t take the bus to travel. Nicely written Faiqqq!!! :D It made me laugh.Recommend

  • Faraz Talat

    Heavens! Are the bus conductors and passengers constantly undressing men with their eyes, and trying to grope at their manly chests at every opportunity possible? (And even if they are, I’m guessing 98% of the times these perpetrators are also male)

    There’s no denying that our public transport services are objectively terrifying, But to suggest that they’re far worse for men than it is for women, illustrates an inability to view the world through anybody’s eyes other than your own.Recommend

  • blue bird

    In the past quarter century, we exposed biases
    against other races and called it racism, and we exposed biases against
    women and called it sexism. Biases against men we call humor.

    —Warren Farrell, Women Can’t Hear What Men Don’t SayRecommend

  • khan jamal

    He is talking about the length of the blog, not about comments. It seems the blogger has special understanding with the editor. It is Pakistan after all.Recommend

  • GrimmJow

    Ok. I agree that Men get harassed in buses too. But why should the ladies stop complaining? Or why should the Men stop complaining? Why?Recommend

  • BlackJack

    This would have been a perfectly reasonable blog without trying to unnecessarily bring women into it; the logic that what happens with you should be tolerated just because it happens to me and my kind as well seems to be a popular one in Pakistan.Recommend

  • sharjeel

    Bravo!
    Though you forgot to mention the innocent pickpockets that appear from nowhere and empty your pockets, before you can even say ‘crap!’.
    @sarahbhaider:disqus
    My Sympathies…Recommend

  • nyistan

    Hence, it is prioven that Pakistan need to replace male conductors with females in public transportation system. It will bring down all the complaints and bus ride would never be miserable. Thank you.Recommend

  • [email protected]

    Relax! Yes, women have it really badly. But the blog is also somewhat tongue-in-cheek!

    There’s no denying that our public transport services are objectively terrifying, But to suggest that the author suggested that they’re far worse for men than for women, illustrates an inability to view the world with a sense of humor.Recommend

  • nishantsirohi123

    so instead of setting your transport system right, you are pointing fingers at the treatment
    if this is done under humor, then the jokes solely missed their marks
    because what it shows is how bad is the condition of public transport. Karachi badly needs the revival of the Circular Railway, and what became of the government owned green buses that were announced ?Recommend

  • Patriarch2013

    YES. Insolent, brazen women, THINK before you react to a man’s touch in a grimy, crowded bus occupied by (judging from this article) abrasive, loud and stoned men lest you cause a minute’s shame to a man who can’t keep better track of his limbs.

    And be grateful, you wretches, that you’re given the ease and kindness of a bus slowing down for you when you’re trying to catch up in a society where you’d otherwise be ogled and harassed on the streets. Your rightful place is in the kitchen anyhow, what are you doing out on the road?!?!Recommend

  • Al-Biruni

    I agree wholeheartedly with your comment and especially your conclusion. It would have made a better piece if it were just about how men get harassed in public transport, but in a patriarchal society like ours, you just *have* to bring women into the equation. -_-Recommend

  • E

    “IT is pakistan after all” such a distasteful comment. Did it really have to come there? What’s with the negativity?Recommend

  • Omair

    Seriously? I mean really. What is wrong with you man.Recommend

  • Parvez

    I suppose the exaggeration was for effect………….but the logic of the comparison was cock-eyed.Recommend

  • Sarah B. Haider

    Women don’t need sympathies. Pakistani men should feel sorry for the sexually perverted animals that most of them are!Recommend

  • Sarah B. Haider

    One could have talked about the problems that people have to endure while travelling in public transports but holding this irrational comparison to make it an extremely sexist post is absurd. That is not about men’s rights, this is just a failed blog because the chosen peg is completely senseless!Recommend

  • Khurshid

    I would add the sexual harassment to young school and college boys traveling in these jam packed buses. Senior men in buses fondle, and touch these kids with all bad intentions, giving dubious smiles, wincing and sometimes calling dirty names.Recommend

  • Sadia

    So, why should the ladies stop complaining??? The men should start complaining too, or better still DO something about the harrassment.Recommend

  • cloud9

    Real men don’t complain……….Recommend

  • boco

    how silly of the author to make it a men versus women debate when he could have easily conveyed his own frustrations directed at public transport without discounting the negative experiences women go through. The article would have been much better treated with a ‘if its any consolation ladies men get harassed on buses too!’ title and concept.Recommend

  • V

    Well agreed that men face a lot of issues in the Pakistani public transport system, but I think it is unwarranted to belittle what women go through. I think it is out of place to ask women to stop complaining. That is just wrong!

    Yes, the women could be more understanding and not issue sweeping statements, because by putting all men together in the same boat as the perverts, you are just provoking them even more.
    Also at the few women who raise the point, if we (men) know what it feels like to be groped, or when someone imagines being engaged in erotic activities with you, well the answer is yes we do. Speaking for myself, I know what it feels like when you are attacked by sexual predators in public, in broad daylight and not just in Pakistan. Actually it has happened to me in Pakistan very rarely but in the middle east it is quite commonplace. So what I am saying, is that a little humility would be nice, men are supposed to be all macho and stuff and not discuss such stuff, but hell, its tough!Recommend

  • Waseem Sarwar

    I can’t understand what author was trying to say ( my bad). If his purpose was to create some fun, article failed to generate it. If purpose of this writing was comparison between men and woman then its totally illogical.Recommend

  • Faisal

    Yes they. Boys, especially cute young ones do get groped. people laso like to press against them. Its very common.Recommend

  • Ali

    It’s not a comparison btw men and women! it’s just to remind the women population then men can be victims as well.. you need not to call them “jahil janglee janwars”, w/o considering that not every one victimizes you! many genuinely respect women! Stop blaming ALL the men! we have issues as well. we don’t need your passive aggressive thoughtless judgments!
    Rest, complain as much as you may.. for those who believe that people should not complain and start changing the transport system, please bring a massive investment for that. And we shall definitely change the transport system. and till you don’t do it, stop barking!Recommend

  • Ali

    Same happens with men.. Point reinforced.. Women do get treated badly, but men get treatment that is worse!!Recommend

  • Sarah B. Haider

    Point is that there was no need to hold a gender-based comparison here. Grievances could be shared without making the post misogynistic.Recommend

  • Offensive

    Wow ET. You get constipation on remotely suggestive insults
    If most of us are perverted animals, ALL of you are results of sperms contributed by men. Dont forget that – ever.Recommend

  • Sarah B. Haider

    Offensive,
    You are entitled to your own opinion and I am to mine. I based my opinion on my experience of travelling in a public bus for four years. I guess anyone whose views are different from yours must be sent to a mental health institute, eh? Anyway, no need to get cross with me. You could have expressed your personal views in the comment box instead of replying to my comment. Simple!Recommend

  • Faria Syed
  • Gender Equality for all

    I guess your father/ brother/ uncle/ grand dad are not innocent as well?Recommend

  • pink

    Hilarious ,enjoyed every bit of this article:D .
    The thing is at the end of it all men can look back and laugh at the way they’r treated on our buses but the way women are treated, you know the kind of abuse they face …there is nothing even slightly funny about it ,not from any angle :( .Recommend

  • Mr

    You are missing one thing author , The Gay Guy!! who stares you like if you are katrina :pRecommend