ABOUT Picture: Vaishali Samant, Megha, Divya Khosla Kumar, Jivika Shah, Smita Thackeray, Dimple Nahar, Swati Thanawala & Rahul Thackeray at Smita Thackeray’s Me Mukti Marshalls launch initiative
Mumbai: this Women’s Day, you will never reach out to the red-and-brown clad Me Mukti Marshall who’ll help you fend off miscreants. Smita Thackeray’s Me Mukti Marshalls initiative was launched at the Bandstand Amphitheatre. Other than the Me Mukti Marshalls themselves, Smita Thackeray’s family members including her son Rahul Thackeray, sister Swati Thanawala, Jivika Shah, celebrities of the likes of Divya Khosla Kumar, Neeta Lulla, Leena Mogre, Shibani Kashyap, Vaishali Samant, Megha, Yogesh Lakhani, Dimple Nahar and many others were also part of the event.
The Me Mukti Marshall is your new friend-on-the-train who promises to be a strong companion until you alight. The team of 13 well trained women will travel on the Western Railway trains between 9.30 pm and 12.30 am between Andheri and Borivali and Mumbai Central and Churchgate to ensure you’re never alone. The women, trained in self defense, will be armed with a baton and pepper spray to protect you from trouble.
A unique initiative by the Mukti Foundation, the Me Mukti Marshalls understand your need for a companion on the local trains. The Mumbai local railway, once the city’s safe travel lifeline, has witnessed a steady rise in crimes against women. Statistics by the Mumbai Government Railway Police for 2013 state that there’s been a 80 per cent increase in cases of sexual harassment of women in the trains. Can we forget how a man got in to the ladies compartment of a western line local train and attempted to rape a nurse who was travelling alone in the unguarded coach last July? Or the case of a foreign tourist who was attacked on a train by a robber? Last year, data shows that there were 76 cases of crimes against women, including rape, molestation and kidnapping, registered between January 1 and November 30.
The Me Mukti Marshalls, a result of Mukti Foundation tie-up with security agency CISS, which is a team of women trained in basic unarmed combat, first aid and drills, will assist the Railway Police in their fight against crimes. With a baton and pepper spray, they will only deter an attacker before helping the victim take the miscreant to the police authorities.
“The police and authorities are doing their best to protect women in the railway premises. The Mukti Foundation appreciates their work and our Me Mukti Marshall is an effort to assist the authorities in curbing crimes and attempt to make women commuters feel safe during non-peak hours. Lakhs of women take the local train every day. Working women often return home late at night and at such times, the families are worried about the safety of their daughters and wives. Our Marshalls will be a friend and companion until the women get off the train,” explains Smita Thackeray, Founder-Chairperson, Mukti Foundation.
For the first few months, as a pilot project, the Marshalls will travel between 9.30 pm and 12.30 am on the Andheri-Borivali section and the Mumbai Central to Churchgate sections on the Western Line before expanding their presence on the Harbour and Central Lines of Western Railways as well.