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Friday, 14 January, 2000, 14:37 GMT
Karate for women conductors

Female conductors in Andhra Pradesh will now pack a punch


By Omer Farooq in Hyderabad

Female bus conductors in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh are being trained in martial arts to deal with sexual harassment at the hands of male passengers.

Some 21 women are taking part in the programme launched by the state government as part of an effort to empower women.

An official of the state-run bus company said the decision was taken after increasing complaints of sexual harassment by female conductors in the state capital, Hyderabad.

A two-week long programme for the 21 women has been organised at a staff training college in the outskirts of Hyderabad.

The classes are being conducted by an experienced black-belt trainer of the Shotokon style.

Officials say the women will also be given instruction in yoga and meditation to "make them stronger not only physically but also psychologically so that they can face any adverse situation with boldness and confidence".

Employing women

Women are deployed only on select bus routes but the company wants to use them across more buses and even on services to rural areas the official, BV Ramanna, said.


More women are working in traditionally male jobs

At the moment, women work on special Metro Liner express buses, which run on a few routes in Hyderabad. They are relatively more expensive and less crowded.

But women face sexual harassment even in these buses.

The policy of recruiting women as conductors was launched in 1996 and there are about 1,000 female conductors working with the state bus company across Andhra Pradesh.

Women are also being recruited for other positions including traffic supervisors and mechanics.

Observers say that in a society which is male dominated, the entry of women into areas which are traditionally the preserve of men has faced tremendous resistance.

But the situation is gradually changing as more and more women are getting the opportunity to work in predominantly male professions.

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See also:
11 Nov 99 |  South Asia
India introduces women's bill
18 Aug 99 |  South Asia
Indian women want more from their men
28 Apr 98 |  Despatches
Indian women upwardly mobile

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